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Hypothalamus-adipose tissue crosstalk: neuropeptide Y and the regulation of energy metabolism

Wei Zhang, Mark A Cline and Elizabeth R Gilbert*

Author Affiliations

3200 Litton-Reaves, Animal & Poultry Sciences Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2014, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-27

Published: 10 June 2014


Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is an orexigenic neuropeptide that plays a role in regulating adiposity by promoting energy storage in white adipose tissue and inhibiting brown adipose tissue activation in mammals. This review describes mechanisms underlying NPY’s effects on adipose tissue energy metabolism, with an emphasis on cellular proliferation, adipogenesis, lipid deposition, and lipolysis in white adipose tissue, and brown fat activation and thermogenesis. In general, NPY promotes adipocyte differentiation and lipid accumulation, leading to energy storage in adipose tissue, with effects mediated mainly through NPY receptor sub-types 1 and 2. This review highlights hypothalamus-sympathetic nervous system-adipose tissue innervation and adipose tissue-hypothalamus feedback loops as pathways underlying these effects. Potential sources of NPY that mediate adipose effects include the bloodstream, sympathetic nerve terminals that innervate the adipose tissue, as well as adipose tissue-derived cells. Understanding the role of central vs. peripherally-derived NPY in whole-body energy balance could shed light on mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of obesity. This information may provide some insight into searching for alternative therapeutic strategies for the treatment of obesity and associated diseases.

Adipose tissue; Hypothalamus; neuropeptide Y; Obesity; Sympathetic nervous system; Thermogenesis