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Hormones and the gastrointestinal tract 

Hormones and the gastrointestinal tract
Hormones and the gastrointestinal tract

Rebecca Scott

, T.M. Tan

, and S.R. Bloom

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date: 05 March 2021

The gastrointestinal tract is the largest endocrine organ in the body, with its component cells dispersed along its length rather than being clustered in glands. More than 20 gut peptides integrate gastrointestinal function by regulating the actions of the epithelium, muscles, and nerves; they also affect the growth and development of the gut and have a major role in appetite control. They mostly work in an autocrine or paracrine manner.

Gastrointestinal hormones include the gastrin–cholecystokinin family, the secretin superfamily, preproglucagon derivatives, the motilin–ghrelin family, the pancreatic polypeptide-fold family, and various other gut peptides. Gastrointestinal and other diseases may cause abnormalities of these gut peptides, for example: (1) achlorhydria (from atrophic gastritis or drug-induced) causes elevation of circulating gastrin; (2) malabsorptive conditions are associated with a decrease in the amount of peptides produced in the affected region, and a compensatory elevation of other peptides; and (3) obesity is associated with orexigenic (appetite-stimulating) and less satiating hormonal changes, and the beneficial effects of bariatric surgery are partly explained through alterations in gut hormones.

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