Dietary proteins and food-related reward signals

  • Katri Peuhkuri
  • Nora Sihvola
  • Riitta Korpela
Keywords: proteins, lactalbumin, amino acids, food hedonics, gut hormones, neuropeptides serotonin, dopamine


Proteins play a crucial role in almost all biological processes. Dietary proteins are generally considered as energy yielding nutrients and as a source of amino acids for various purposes. In addition, they may have a role in food-related reward signals. The purpose of this review was to give an overview of the role of dietary proteins in food-related reward and possible mechanisms behind such effects. Dietary proteins may elicit food-related reward by several different postprandial mechanisms, including neural and humoral signals from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain. In order to exert rewarding effects, protein have to be absorbed from the intestine and reach the target cells in sufficient concentrations, or act via receptors ad cell signalling in the gut without absorption. Complex interactions between different possible mechanisms make it very difficult to gain a clear view on the role and intesity of each mechanism. It is concluded that, in principle, dietary proteins may have a role in food-related reward. However, the evidence is based mostly on experiments with animal models and one should be careful in drawing conclusions of clinical relevance.

Keywords: lactalbumin; amino acids; food hedonics; gut hormones; neuropeptides; serotonin; dopamine

(Published: 1 June 2011)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2011, 55: 5955 - DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v55i0.5955


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Author Biography

Katri Peuhkuri
How to Cite
Peuhkuri K., Sihvola N., & Korpela R. (2011). Dietary proteins and food-related reward signals. Food & Nutrition Research.
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