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Orphan G-protein-coupled receptors : strategies for identifying ligands and potential for use in eating disorders.

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key regulators of intercellular interactions, participating in almost every physiological response. They exert their effects by being activated by a variety of endogenous ligands. Traditionally, these ligands were identified first, providing tools to characterise the receptors. However, since the late 1980s, homology screening approaches have allowed the GPCRs to be found first, and in turn used as orphan targets to identify their ligands. Over the last decade this method has led to the identification of 12 novel neuropeptide families. Interestingly, four of these deorphanised GPCR systems, melanin-concentrating hormone, ghrelin, orexin and neuropeptide B/neuropeptide W, have been found to play a role in the control of energy balance. This article reviews the role of these GPCR systems in the control of food intake and energy expenditure, and discusses their potential use in therapies directed at eating disorders. As obesity has reached epidemic proportions across the developed world, pharmacotherapy has focused on this condition. However, difficulties in weight control also characterise disorders of binge eating such as bulimia and binge-eating disorder. Consequently, hypophagic treatments may be of potential benefit in normal, overweight or obese individuals displaying aberrant (out of control) eating behaviour.[1]


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