Seasonal fluctuations in food availability show a tight association with seasonal variations in body weight and food intake. Seasonal variations in food intake, energy storage, and expenditure appear to be a widespread phenomenon suggesting they may have evolved in anticipation for changing environmental demands. These cycles appear to be driven by changes in external daylength acting on neuroendocrine pathways. A number of neuroendocrine pathways, two of which are the endocrine mechanisms underlying feeding and stress, appear to show seasonal changes in both their circulating levels and reactivity. As such, variation in the level or reactivity to these hormones may be crucial factors in the control of seasonal variations in food-seeking behaviors. The present review examines the relationship between feeding behavior and seasonal changes in circulating hormones. We hypothesize that seasonal changes in circulating levels of glucocorticoids and the feeding-related hormones ghrelin and leptin contribute to seasonal fluctuations in feeding-related behaviors. This review will focus on the seasonal circulating levels of these hormones as well as sensitivity to these hormones in the modulation of food-seeking behaviors.

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Frontiers in Neuroscience
Department of Neuroscience

Holahan, M.R, Cahill, Shaina, & Tuplin, Erin. (2013). Circannual changes in stress and feeding hormones and their effect on food-seeking behaviors. Frontiers in Neuroscience. doi:10.3389/fnins.2013.00140