Integrating animal development: How hormones and metabolism regulate developmental transitions and brain formation

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Our current knowledge on how individual tissues or organs are formed during animal development is considerable. However, the development of each organ does not occur in isolation and thus their formation needs to be done in a coordinated manner. This coordination is regulated by hormones, systemic signals that instruct the simultaneous development of all organs and direct tissue specific developmental programs. In addition, multi- and individual-organ development requires the integration of the nutritional state of the animal, since this affects nutrient availability necessary for the progression of development and growth. Variations in the nutritional state of the animal are normal during development, as the sources and access to nutrients greatly differ depending on the animal stage. Furthermore, adversities of the external environment also exert major alterations in extrinsic nutritional conditions. Thus, both in normal and malnutrition circumstances, the animal needs to trigger metabolic changes to maintain energy homeostasis and sustain growth and development. This metabolic flexibility is mediated by hormones, that drive both developmental encoded metabolic transitions throughout development and adaptation responses according to the nutritional state of the animal. This review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the current knowledge of how endocrine regulation coordinates multi-organ development by orchestrating metabolic transitions and how it integrates metabolic adaptation responses to starvation. We also focus on the particular case of brain development, as it is extremely sensitive to hormonally induced metabolic changes. Finally, we discuss how brain development is prioritized over the development of other organs, as its growth can be spared from nutrient deprivation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Early online date4 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Brain
  • Development
  • Drosophila
  • Hormones
  • Metabolism


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