Nutrient sensing in the gut in the regulation of appetite

Obesity is a major global health problem and there is an urgent need for safe and effective treatments. Understanding how the gastrointestinal tract senses food ingestion to regulate appetite may identify novel targets for anti-obesity therapies.

High protein diets promote weight loss and subsequent weight management. However, such intervention programmes are difficult to adhere to. The mechanisms by which protein diets suppress appetite are unclear, but there is evidence to suggest that the amino acids produced by protein digestion may play a role. The activation of amino acid-sensing receptors in the gastrointestinal tract by specific amino acids modulates the release of appetite-regulating gut hormones. Thus these nutritional sensing systems represent a promising target for anti-obesity drugs or nutraceuticals.