Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why narcoleptics get fat

Date:
October 4, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
People with narcolepsy are not only excessively sleepy, but they are also prone to gaining weight. In fact, narcoleptic patients will often pack on pounds even as they eat considerably less than your average person. Now researchers appear to have an answer as to why. It seems a deficiency of the neuropeptide hormone orexin, an ingredient that encourages hunger and wakefulness, may leave them with a lack of energy-burning brown fat.

People with narcolepsy are not only excessively sleepy, but they are also prone to gaining weight. In fact, narcoleptic patients will often pack on pounds even as they eat considerably less than your average person.

Related Articles


Now researchers reporting in the October issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, appear to have an answer as to why. It seems a deficiency of the neuropeptide hormone orexin, an ingredient that encourages hunger and wakefulness, may leave them with a lack of energy-burning brown fat.

The findings may lead to orexin-based weight loss therapies for those with narcolepsy and for the rest of us, too, according to the researchers.

Orexins are rather unique in that they allow one to eat more and lose more at the same time, explained Devanjan Sikder of the Sanford-Burnham Research Institute. "It is a couch potato's dream."

Fat comes in one of two types: white or brown. White fat stores calories while brown fat burns them, generating heat in the process. There had been hints that orexins might influence body temperature, but it wasn't clear exactly how.

The new evidence in mice shows that orexins are critical for the formation of mature brown fat from its precursors. With too little orexin, animals' brown fat activity drops along with their energy expenditure. Likewise, mice injected with orexin show a substantial loss of fat.

The findings bolster the emerging concept that those with less active brown fat may be destined from birth, or even before, to be fatter. "They are somehow predisposed," Sikder said.

There are already ways of stimulating brown fat's production, but it isn't easy to do. For instance, more brown fat is produced when you spend a lot of time in the cold. The new findings suggest that orexin therapies might be useful for increasing brown fat and literally melting extra calories away.

"One caveat is that orexin might increase arousal," the researchers wrote, "although this is expected only under sleep deprived conditions."

Sikder says it will now also be worthwhile to examine orexin-deficient people with narcolepsy to find out whether their brown fat activity is indeed compromised.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Dyan Sellayah, Preeti Bharaj, Devanjan Sikder. Orexin Is Required for Brown Adipose Tissue Development, Differentiation, and Function. Cell Metabolism, 2011; 14 (4): 478-490 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.08.010

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Why narcoleptics get fat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123558.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, October 4). Why narcoleptics get fat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123558.htm
Cell Press. "Why narcoleptics get fat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111004123558.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

More Coverage


Hormone Fights Fat With Fat: Orexin Prevents Obesity in Mice by Activating Calorie-Burning Brown Fat

Oct. 4, 2011 Researchers have discovered that the hormone orexin activates calorie-burning brown fat in mice. Orexin deficiency is associated with obesity, suggesting that orexin supplementation could provide a ... read more

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