The cachexia–anorexia syndrome occurs in chronic pathophysiologic processes including cancer, infection with human immunodeficiency virus, bacterial and parasitic diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Cachexia makes an organism susceptible to secondary pathologies and can result in death. Cachexia–anorexia may result from pain, depression or anxiety, hypogeusia and hyposmia, taste and food aversions, chronic nausea, vomiting, early satiety, malfunction of the gastrointestinal system (delayed digestion, malabsorption, gastric stasis and associated delayed emptying, and/or atrophic changes of the mucosa), metabolic shifts, cytokine action, production of substances by tumor cells, and/or iatrogenic causes such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The cachexia–anorexia syndrome also involves metabolic and immune changes (mediated by either the pathophysiologic process, i.e., tumor, or host-derived chemical factors, e.g., peptides, neurotransmitters, cytokines, and lipid-mobilizing factors) and is associated with hypertriacylglycerolemia, lipolysis, and acceleration of protein turnover. These changes result in the loss of fat mass and body protein. Increased resting energy expenditure in weight-losing cachectic patients can occur despite the reduced dietary intake, indicating a systemic dysregulation of host metabolism. During cachexia, the organism is maintained in a constant negative energy balance. This can rarely be explained by the actual energy and substrate demands by tumors in patients with cancer. Overall, the cachectic profile is significantly different than that observed during starvation. Cachexia may result not only from anorexia and a decreased caloric intake but also from malabsorption and losses from the body (ulcers, hemorrhage, effusions). In any case, the major deficit of a cachectic organism is a negative energy balance. Cytokines are proposed to participate in the development and/or progression of cachexia–anorexia; interleukin-1, interleukin-6 (and its subfamily members such as ciliary neurotrophic factor and leukemia inhibitory factor), interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor have been associated with various cachectic conditions. Controversy has focused on the requirement of increased cytokine concentrations in the circulation or other body fluids (e.g., cerebrospinal fluid) to demonstrate cytokine involvement in cachexia–anorexia. Cytokines, however, also act in paracrine, autocrine, and intracrine manners, activities that cannot be detected in the circulation. In fact, paracrine interactions represent a predominant cytokine mode of action within organs, including the brain. Data show that cytokines may be involved in cachectic–anorectic processes by being produced and by acting locally in specific brain regions. Brain synthesis of cytokines has been shown in peripheral models of cancer, peripheral inflammation, and during peripheral cytokine administration; these data support a role for brain cytokines as mediators of neurologic and neuropsychiatric manifestations of disease and in the brain-to-peripheral communication (e.g., through the autonomic nervous system). Brain mechanisms that merit significant attention in the cachexia–anorexia syndrome are those that result from interactions among cytokines, peptides/neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters. These interactions could result in additive, synergistic, or antagonistic activities and can involve modifications of transducing molecules and intracellular mediators. Thus, the data show that the cachexia–anorexia syndrome is multifactorial, and understanding the interactions between peripheral and brain mechanisms is pivotal to characterizing the underlying integrative pathophysiology of this disorder.
nervous system , Hypothalamus , Immune system , feeding , satiety , cancer , infection , Neurology , Psychiatry , cytokine , tumor necrosis factor , leptin , Interleukin , brain , meal , Neuroimmunology