The therapeutic potential of GLP-1 analogues for stress-related eating and role of GLP-1 in stress, emotion and mood: a review

Eva Guerrero-Hreins, Anthony P. Goldstone, Robyn M. Brown, Priya Sumithran (Leading Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Stress and low mood are powerful triggers for compulsive overeating, a maladaptive form of eating leading to negative physical and mental health consequences. Stress-vulnerable individuals, such as people with obesity, are particularly prone to overconsumption of high energy foods and may use it as a coping mechanism for general life stressors. Recent advances in the treatment of obesity and related co-morbidities have focused on the therapeutic potential of anorexigenic gut hormones, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which acts both peripherally and centrally to reduce energy intake. Besides its appetite suppressing effect, GLP-1 acts on areas of the brain involved in stress response and emotion regulation. However, the role of GLP-1 in emotion and stress regulation, and whether it is a viable treatment for stress-induced compulsive overeating, has yet to be established. A thorough review of the pre-clinical literature measuring markers of stress, anxiety and mood after GLP-1 exposure points to potential divergent effects based on temporality. Specifically, acute GLP-1 injection consistently stimulates the physiological stress response in rodents whereas long-term exposure indicates anxiolytic and anti-depressive benefits. However, the limited clinical evidence is not as clear cut. While prolonged GLP-1 analogue treatment in people with type 2 diabetes improved measures of mood and general psychological wellbeing, the mechanisms underlying this may be confounded by associated weight loss and improved blood glucose control. There is a paucity of longitudinal clinical literature on mechanistic pathways by which stress influences eating behavior and how centrally-acting gut hormones such as GLP-1, can modify these.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110303
Number of pages16
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Emotion
  • GLP-1
  • Mood
  • Obesity
  • Stress

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