Pathophysiology and treatment of inflammatory anorexia in chronic disease

Theodore P. Braun, Daniel L. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Decreased appetite and involuntary weight loss are common occurrences in chronic disease and have a negative impact on both quality of life and eventual mortality. Weight loss in chronic disease comes from both fat and lean mass, and is known as cachexia. Both alterations in appetite and body weight loss occur in a wide variety of diseases, including cancer, heart failure, renal failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and HIV. An increase in circulating inflammatory cytokines has been implicated as a uniting pathogenic mechanism of cachexia and associated anorexia. One of the targets of inflammatory mediators is the central nervous system, and in particular feeding centers in the hypothalamus located in the ventral diencephalon. Current research has begun to elucidate the mechanisms by which inflammation reaches the hypothalamus, and the neural substrates underlying inflammatory anorexia. Research into these neural mechanisms has suggested new therapeutic possibilities, which have produced promising results in preclinical and clinical trials. This review will discuss inflammatory signaling in the hypothalamus that mediates anorexia, and the opportunities for therapeutic intervention that these mechanisms present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Anorexia
  • Cachexia
  • Hypothalamus
  • Inflammation
  • Melanocortin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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