Orexigenic and anorexigenic mechanisms in the control of nutrition in chronic kidney disease

Robert H. Mak, Wai Cheung, Roger D. Cone, Daniel L. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Malnutrition is defined as abnormalities caused by an inadequate diet, but this term is often used inappropriately to describe the syndrome of loss of body weight with muscle mass being replaced by fatty tissue and declining serum proteins present in adults and children with chronic kidney disease (CKD). This syndrome is more accurately described as cachexia, and manifests as growth failure in children with CKD. Cachexia is common and is an important risk factor for poor quality of life and increased mortality and morbidity in both adults and children with CKD. Anorexia, acidosis and inflammation are important causes of cachexia, but the underlying molecular mechanism is not well understood. Dietary intake is often poor and resting metabolic rate is increased in CKD. The energy cost of growth is increased in experimental CKD. Circulating concentrations of cytokines, such as leptin, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukins 1 and 6 are increased in patients with CKD and correlate with the degree of cachexia in these individuals. We hypothesize that cytokines signal through orexigenic neuropetides such as agouti-related peptide and neuropeptide Y (NPY), and anorexigenic neuropetides such as proopiomelanocortin and α-melanocyte -stimulating hormone in the arcuate nucleus in the hypothalamus. This signaling system also involves the NPY receptor and the melanocortin receptors and controls appetite and metabolic rate in health and disease. Furthermore, the first order neurons of this system are located outside the blood-brain barrier and can therefore sense the circulating levels of cytokines, as well as long-term satiety hormones such as leptin and insulin and short-term satiety hormones such as ghrelin and peptide (P) YY. There is experimental evidence that this hypothalamic neuropeptide signaling system may have an important role in the pathogenesis of cachexia in CKD. Understanding the molecular mechanism of cachexia in CKD may lead to novel therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-431
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Nephrology
Issue number3 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Cachexia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Cytokines
  • Growth failure
  • Leptin
  • Melanocortin
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Neuropeptides
  • Uremia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Nephrology


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