Jan 6, 2009 | 40
Drugs currently on the market but used for other purposes helped plump mice shed pounds by upping their response to the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin, according to a new study. Researchers say the findings offer new hope in the search for weight-loss meds that exploit the hunger-dampening hormone, first discovered some 13 years ago.
"Leptin is a protein secreted from the adipocytes (fat cells)," says Umut Ozcan, an endocrinologist at Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., and senior author of the study published today in the journal Cell Metabolism. "When fat cells release this hormone, it travels to an area [in the brain] called the hypothalamus," which controls appetite. Upon entering the hypothalamus, Ozcan says, the hormone alerts brain cells, or neurons, that the body has taken in enough food to meet its energy needs so there's no reason to keep eating. He says that most obese people have developed a resistance to leptin, which means that the hypothalamus no longer heeds its messages to stop chowing down.
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