Obesity surgery and gut-brain communication

Hans Rudolf Berthoud, Andrew C. Shin, Huiyuan Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The prevalence of obesity, and the cluster of serious metabolic diseases it is associated with, continues to rise globally, and hopes for effective treatment with drugs have been considerably set back. Thus, success with bariatric surgeries to induce sustained body weight loss and effectively cure most of the associated co-morbidities appears almost "miraculous" and systematic investigation of the mechanisms at work has gained momentum. Here, we will discuss the basic organization of gut-brain communication and review clinical and pre-clinical investigations on the potential mechanisms by which gastric bypass surgery leads to its beneficial effects on energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Although a lot has been learned regarding changes in energy intake and expenditure, secretion of gut hormones, and improvement in glucose homeostasis, there has not yet been the "breakthrough observation" of identifying a key signaling component common to the beneficial effects of the surgery. However, given the complexity and redundancy of gut-brain signaling and gut signaling to other relevant organs, it is perhaps more realistic to expect a number of key signaling changes that act in concert to bring about the "miracle".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-119
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 30 2011


  • Amylin
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Energy homeostasis
  • GLP-1
  • Ghrelin
  • Glucose homeostasis
  • Insulin
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • PYY
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Satiation
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Vagus nerve


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