IMAGE SOURCE:© Wikimedia Commons / waist circumference / author: Pharos, FDA Dietary Guidelines
Scientists have discovered a fatty substance made in the gut that signals the brain when it’s time to stop eating -- a discovery that could lead to new approaches in the fight against obesity.
For now, the signal may help individuals to feel full for a while, but researchers are hopeful that in the future variations of this group of hormones – known as N-acylphosphatidylethanolamines, or NAPEs – can be used to regulate appetite and in turn obesity.
“We are excited about the findings, but we have more work to do,” said Dr. Gerald Shulman, a professor of internal medicine and of cellular and molecular physiology at Yale University School of Medicine. “We would love to be able to study these findings in humans tomorrow, as effective obesity treatments are needed. But more research is needed.”
Shulman, lead study author and his team of researchers were in search of a new, fat-derived signal that might help to control food intake. They used a detailed blood-screening test – called LC tandem mass spectrometry – to find the NAPE group of molecules.
For the study, rats were given NAPE for five days and there was a continuous reduction in food intake and body weight. More precisely, they ate 30 percent less food and lost a quarter of their weight. “The findings suggests NAPE or long-acting NAPE analogs may help treat obesity,” Shulman said.
NAPEs also appeared to target the hypothalamus, a region of the brain which functions to stabilize appetite, thirst, energy, fatigue, body temperature and metabolic processes, according to researchers.
These findings could help lead the way to more effective drugs to suppress appetite and reduce obesity, said researchers.
“We are now doing studies in humans to see if we get a similar increase in NAPE concentrations following consumption of a fatty meal,” Shulman said.
Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and even some cancers.
The study is published in the November 26 issue of the journal Cell.
Research published in the October issue of the journal Cell suggests overeating activates a metabolic response usually inactive in hypothalamus - middle region of the brain - contributing to increased levels of caloric consumption. #