The central actions of leptin and insulin are essential for the regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis. In addition to the crucial effects on the hypothalamus, emerging evidence suggests that the leptin and insulin signaling can act on other brain regions to mediate the reward value of nutrients. Recent studies have indicated the midbrain dopaminergic neurons as a potential site for leptin' and insulin's actions on mediating the feeding behaviors and therefore affecting the energy balance. Although molecular details about the integrative roles of leptin and insulin in this subset of neurons remain to be investigated, substantial body of evidence by far imply that the signaling pathways regulated by leptin and insulin may play an essential role in the regulation of energy balance through the control of food-associated reward. This review therefore describes the convergence of energy regulation and reward system, particularly focusing on leptin and insulin signaling in the midbrain dopaminergic neurons.
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