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Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise

Date:
March 3, 2015
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism -- effects commonly associated with exercising. When tested in mice, the hormone blocked the negative health effects of eating a high-fat diet.
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Mouse and cheese (stock image).
Credit: © Emilia Stasiak / Fotolia

Scientists at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism -- effects commonly associated with exercising.

Hormones are molecules that act as the body's signals, triggering various physiological responses. The newly discovered hormone, dubbed "MOTS-c," primarily targets muscle tissue, where it restores insulin sensitivity, counteracting diet-induced and age-dependent insulin resistance.

"This represents a major advance in the identification of new treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes," said Pinchas Cohen, dean of the USC Davis school and senior author of a study on the research, which will appear in Cell Metabolism on March 3.

To test the effects of MOTS-c, the team injected the hormone into mice fed a high-fat diet, which typically causes them to grow obese and develop a resistance to insulin. The injections not only suppressed both effects in mice, they also reversed age-dependent insulin-resistance, a condition that precedes diabetes.

"This discovery sheds new light on mitochondria and positions them as active regulators of metabolism," said Changhan Lee, assistant professor at USC Davis and lead author of the study.

MOTS-c is unique among hormones in that it is encoded in the DNA of mitochondria -- the "powerhouses" of cells that convert food into energy. Other hormones are encoded in DNA in the nucleus.

Lee and Cohen collaborated with colleagues from the USC school as well as the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health.

While all of the experiments on MOTS-c to date have been performed on lab mice, the molecular mechanisms that make it function in mice exist in all mammals, including humans. The MOTS-c intellectual property has been licensed to a biotechnology company, and clinical trials in humans could begin within the next three years, Cohen said.

This research was funded by National Institutes of Health (grants 1R01AG 034430 EUREKA Award, 1R01GM 090311 Transformative RO1, 1R01ES 020812), a Glenn Award, an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award, and a SC-CTSI grant.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Changhan Lee, Jennifer Zeng, Brian G. Drew, Tamer Sallam, Alejandro Martin-Montalvo, Junxiang Wan, Su-Jeong Kim, Hemal Mehta, Andrea L. Hevener, Rafael de Cabo, Pinchas Cohen. The Mitochondrial-Derived Peptide MOTS-c Promotes Metabolic Homeostasis and Reduces Obesity and Insulin Resistance. Cell Metabolism, 2015; 21 (3): 443 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.02.009

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University of Southern California. "Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303183407.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2015, March 3). Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 26, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303183407.htm
University of Southern California. "Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303183407.htm (accessed August 26, 2016).