Purpose of review
This review is intended to provide an overview of this section on ‘Gastrointestinal regulatory peptides’ and to emphasize both similarities and differences between ‘classic’ hormones and those peptides synthesized within, and released from, the gastrointestinal tract. It will also discuss recent investigation involving these peptides and their physiological properties and pathologic potential.
More recent investigation, much of which is discussed in this section, has looked at the central role of the gastrointestinal tract, and specifically gastrointestinal regulatory peptides, in nutrient homeostasis and in the pathogenesis of obesity and other nutritional disorders.
Regulatory peptides are chemical messengers that provide a means of communication between two cells which are commonly located in different organ systems. The peptides interact via a shared aqueous environment; whereas this environment is endocrine in nature for classic hormones and gastrointestinal peptides, the latter also include those peptides that communicate more directly with their target via paracrine, neurocrine, and autocrine routes. The field of gastrointestinal regulatory peptides is in its infancy, and the coming decades will witness the development of these peptides, as well as analogues and antagonists, as potential new forms of therapy of obesity and other nutrition-related disorders, as well as other maladies.