Food intake is tightly regulated by homeostatic and reward mechanisms and the adequate function of both is necessary for the proper maintenance of energy balance. Ghrelin impacts on these two levels to induce feeding. In this review, we present the actions of ghrelin in food reward, including their dependence on other relevant modulators implicated in the motivational aspects of feeding, including dopamine, opioid peptides, and endocannabinoids. We also describe the interaction between brain areas involved in homeostatic regulation of feeding and the reward system, with a special emphasis on the role of arcuate nucleus melanocortins and lateral hypothalamus orexins in ghrelin function. Finally, we briefly discuss the actions of ghrelin in food reward in obesity. We propose that new insights into the mechanism of action of ghrelin in the rewarding and motivational control of food intake will help to understand food-related disorders including obesity and anorexia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience