Obesity and its sequelae constitute a major international healthcare problem. The obesity epidemic is due in part to higher calorie diets and reduced exercise over the past 30 years, however, increasing evidence has established genetic regulation of body weight as a major contributor to obesity. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates development and plasticity of the central nervous system, and recent work has established a clear role for signaling through BDNF and its receptor TrkB in the control of body weight. Here we review research findings from animal models and human populations indicating that BDNF is a negative regulator of appetitive behavior and body weight.
Keywords: BDNF, TrkB, single nucleotide polymorphism, human obesity, hypothalamus