Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding Obesity: New Research Examines How Hunger Signals Work In The Brain

Date:
April 10, 2003
Source:
Saint Louis University
Summary:
Obese people are not getting critical chemical signals to their brains that tell them to stop eating, findings from Saint Louis University suggest.

ST. LOUIS -- Obese people are not getting critical chemical signals to their brains that tell them to stop eating, findings from Saint Louis University suggest. The review of research was published in the March issue of Current Pharmaceutical Design.

Normally, a protein called leptin is released from fat cells and hitches a ride across the blood vessels that feed the brain, known as the "blood-brain barrier." The protein then is in the right place to tell the brain that the body has had enough to eat, to eat less or to burn calories faster.

However, among those who are obese, the brain doesn't seem to be getting the message. This could be because the blood-brain barrier doesn't properly transport the leptin or because the brain isn't interpreting the signals properly.

William A. Banks, M.D., professor of geriatrics in the department of internal medicine and professor of pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, speculates that people gain fat to increase the amount of leptin needed to push through the communications bottleneck.

"The research is significant as its suggests a new way that the brain and the body communicate about body weight. Obesity is the result when that communication falters," he says. Banks, who is also a staff physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis, says problems with transporting leptin to the brain lead to a vicious cycle.

Obesity apparently triggers a mechanism that prevents signals to stop eating from getting to the brain, which leads to more obesity. And as obesity increases, the likelihood decreases of the signals getting through.

"The problem with communicating across the blood-brain barrier comes with increasing obesity and increasing obesity makes it more difficult for the brain and body to communicate about weight. Our research found that fat mice get fatter as they age and skinny ones stay about the same," he says.

"Fat mice develop a blood-brain barrier defect but skinny ones don't. To some degree, that defect is reversible with weight loss."

Animals are not born with communications signals blocked between the body and brain. The problem develops with time, Banks says.

"Maybe some environmental factor or substance from within the body triggers this. Substances such as epinephrine can stimulate transporting leptin into the brain. Conversely, there might be substances that impair transporting leptin. If we could identify them, we could develop a new treatment for obesity based on blocking the substances that prevent leptin from getting into the brain."

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Saint Louis University. "Understanding Obesity: New Research Examines How Hunger Signals Work In The Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030410071927.htm>.
Saint Louis University. (2003, April 10). Understanding Obesity: New Research Examines How Hunger Signals Work In The Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030410071927.htm
Saint Louis University. "Understanding Obesity: New Research Examines How Hunger Signals Work In The Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030410071927.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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