Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neuroscience study uncovers new player in obesity

Date:
January 7, 2014
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
A new neuroscience study sheds light on the biological underpinnings of obesity. The study reveals how a protein in the brain helps regulate food intake and body weight. The findings create a potential new avenue for the treatment of obesity and may help explain why medications that interfere with this protein, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can cause weight gain.

A new neuroscience study sheds light on the biological underpinnings of obesity. The in vivo study, published in the January 8 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, reveals how a protein in the brain helps regulate food intake and body weight. The findings reveal a potential new avenue for the treatment of obesity and may help explain why medications that are prescribed for epilepsy and other conditions that interfere with this protein, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can cause weight gain.

The protein -- alpha2/delta-1 -- has not been linked previously to obesity. A team led by Maribel Rios, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine, discovered that alpha2/delta-1 facilitates the function of another protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A previous study by Rios determined that BDNF plays a critical role in appetite suppression, while the current study identifies a central mechanism mediating the inhibitory effects of BDNF on overeating.

"We know that low levels of the BDNF protein in the brain lead to overeating and dramatic obesity in mice. Deficiencies in BDNF have also been linked to obesity in humans. Now, we have discovered that the alpha2/delta-1 protein is necessary for normal BDNF function, giving us a potential new target for novel obesity treatments," said Rios, also a member of the cellular and molecular physiology and neuroscience program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts.

Rios and colleagues discovered that low levels of BDNF were associated with decreased function of alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus, a brain region that is critical to the regulation of food intake and weight. When the team inhibited the alpha2/delta-1 protein in normal mice, mice ate significantly more food and gained weight. Conversely, when the team corrected the alpha 2/delta-1 deficiency in mice with reduced BDNF levels, overeating and weight gain were mitigated. In addition, blood sugar levels (related to diabetes in humans) were normalized.

"We blocked activity of the alpha2/delta-1 protein in mice using gabapentin. These mice ate 39 percent more food, and as a consequence gained substantially more weight than control mice over a seven-day period," said first author Joshua Cordeira, Ph.D., a graduate of the neuroscience program at the Sackler School and member of Rios's lab. This study is related to his Ph.D. thesis.

"When we re-introduced alpha2/delta-1 in obese mice lacking BDNF in the brain, we saw a 15-20 percent reduction in food intake and a significant reduction in weight gain. Importantly, metabolic disturbances associated with obesity, including hyperglycemia and deficient glucose metabolism, were greatly reduced by restoring the function of alpha2/delta-1," added Rios.

Some individuals who take gabapentin and pregabalin report weight gain. Both gabapentin and pregabalin are anticonvulsants, also used to treat nerve pain from, for example, shingles or diabetes. The findings from the Rios lab suggest that these drugs might contribute to weight gain by interfering with alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus. This new understanding of alpha2/delta-1's role in appetite may allow researchers to develop complementary treatments that can prevent weight gain for patients taking these medications.

"We now know that alpha2/delta-1 plays a critical role in healthy BDNF function. The finding improves our understanding of the intricate neuroscience involved in appetite control. The next phase of our research will be to unravel the mechanisms mediating the satiety effects of alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus," said Rios.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. W. Cordeira, J. A. Felsted, S. Teillon, S. Daftary, M. Panessiti, J. Wirth, M. Sena-Esteves, M. Rios. Hypothalamic Dysfunction of the Thrombospondin Receptor 2-1 Underlies the Overeating and Obesity Triggered by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Deficiency. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014; 34 (2): 554 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1572-13.2014

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "Neuroscience study uncovers new player in obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107215152.htm>.
Tufts University. (2014, January 7). Neuroscience study uncovers new player in obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107215152.htm
Tufts University. "Neuroscience study uncovers new player in obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107215152.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) 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:
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