The role of ghrelin, leptin and insulin in foetal development
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The Physiology Department of the K. Marcinkowski University of Medical Science in Poznan, Poland
The Mother and Child Health Department of the K. Marcinkowski University of Medical Science in Poznan, Poland
Department of Allergology and Environmental Hazards, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Stanisłw Staszic University of Applied Sciences in Piła, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2014;21(2):349–352
Introduction and objective:
The growing epidemic of childhood obesity has forced scientists to search for methods to prevent feeding disorders. Increasing interest in appetite regulating hormones has revealed their influence on energy homeostasis after birth or even in utero.

State of knowledge:
The presence of ghrelin in the stomach of human foetuses and the distinctive production in the pancreas of neonates suggests the role of ghrelin in pre- and post-natal development. The neonatal period appears to be a critical time for the formation of adipose tissue-hypothalamus circuits, thus the amount of adipocytes in foetal life may be a major regulator of food intake. Insulin’s orexigenic effect in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus can be a major modulator of foetal development.

This review, based on available literature, aims to analyses the role of appetite regulating hormones in foetal development.

Different concentrations of hormones, such as ghrelin, leptin and insulin during foetal life raises the question whether or not they can be modulated, thereby avoiding obesity before birth. Children with pancreas agenesis showed smaller body size at birth, which emphasises the probable role of insulin in foetal growth. Study of sheep foetuses with IUGR confirmed these finding. Appetite-regulating hormones show different roles in foetal development and seem to be essential in the perinatal period.

Wioletta Żukiewicz-Sobczak   
Department of Allergology and Environmental Hazards, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
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