Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Study Of The Genetic Causes Of Obesity Defies Traditional Thinking About The Role Of Adrenaline

Date:
May 1, 1997
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Scientists have long thought that the sympathetic (or autonomic) nervous system determines how the body uses energy from food. However, new studies reported in the May 1 edition of Nature appear to contradict traditional thinking.

Related Articles



Scientists have long thought that the sympathetic (or autonomic) nervous system determines how the body uses energy from food, deciding whether calories are burned up to keep the body warm, or stored in the form of fat.

However, new studies reported in the May 1 edition of Nature appear to contradict traditional thinking about the sympathetic nervous system's influence in people who never gain weight no matter how much they eat, versus those who seemingly put on pounds if a piece of cheesecake is merely passed under their nose.

To test whether deficiencies in the sympathetic nervous system may be a cause of obesity, University of Washington researchers Dr. Steven A. Thomas and Dr. Richard D. Palmiter produced mice that cannot make adrenaline (the hormone of the adrenal gland) or noradrenaline (the chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system). These two compounds are released in response to stress and regulate many body functions, including the ability to keep warm.

The mice that cannot make adrenaline and noradrenaline are unable to increase heat production, and they cannot defend themselves against heat loss; consequently, they lose heat rapidly in the cold.

"This was expected," said Palmiter, UW professor of biochemistry and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "However, many scientists believed that under normal temperatures these mice would become obese because they wouldn't burn excess calories but instead would deposit them as fat."

"Instead, we found that at normal temperatures these mice do not become obese, despite the fact they eat more than normal," said Thomas, a senior fellow in biochemistry and first author of the UW study. "Our research suggests that obesity is not likely to involve defects in the sympathetic nervous system or in the production of adrenaline."

Noradrenaline normally produces heat by stimulating the production of protein called the uncoupling protein (UCP) in special brown fat cells. In the mice that lacked noradrenaline, this production did not take place.

A second study in the same issue of Nature corroborates the UW findings. Scientists at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, produced mice that cannot make UCP. Like the UW mice, these mice do not become obese and they, too, are more sensitive to the cold.

A previous study by Drs. David E. Cummings and G. Stanley McKnight of the UW School of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology (published in Nature last year) indicated that chronic activation of the pathway leading to UCP production resulted in lean mice. Thus, there was ample reason to think that the opposite might be true if mice could not increase heat production after eating a meal.

"Both of the current studies, done independently and without each others' knowledge, produced consistent and unexpected results that are leading us to look in new directions for the genetic causes of obesity in humans," said Thomas.

The UW research was funded by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "New Study Of The Genetic Causes Of Obesity Defies Traditional Thinking About The Role Of Adrenaline." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/05/970501110427.htm>.
University of Washington. (1997, May 1). New Study Of The Genetic Causes Of Obesity Defies Traditional Thinking About The Role Of Adrenaline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/05/970501110427.htm
University of Washington. "New Study Of The Genetic Causes Of Obesity Defies Traditional Thinking About The Role Of Adrenaline." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/05/970501110427.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins