Originally named for its expression in the posterior hypothalamus in rats and after the Greek word for “appetite”, hypocretin, or orexin, as it is known today, gained notoriety as a neuropeptide regulating feeding behavior, energy homeostasis, and sleep. Orexin has been proven to be involved in both central and peripheral control of neuroendocrine functions, energy balance, and metabolism. Since its discovery, its ability to increase appetite as well as regulate feeding behavior has been widely explored in mammalian food production animals such as cattle, pigs, and sheep. It is also linked to neurological disorders, leading to its intensive investigation in humans regarding narcolepsy, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, in non-mammalian species, research is limited. In the case of avian species, orexin has been shown to have no central effect on feed-intake, however it was found to be involved in muscle energy metabolism and hepatic lipogenesis. This review provides current knowledge and summarizes orexin’s physiological roles in livestock and pinpoints the present lacuna to facilitate further investigations.
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