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Obesity Makes Brain Go Wrong

Armen Hareyan's picture

Eating too much food activates brain pathway, which is normally inactive. This process makes brain go wrong and cause various obesity related diseases.

A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined brain of lab mice to see how obesity affects brain function. Researchers found that obesity affects brain pathway (called hypothalamus) aimed at regulating body metabolism and energy. When the lab mice were fed high calorie, fatty diet, their brains' hypothalamus became very active.

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When hypothalamus is activated a compound named IKKbeta/NK-kappaB also goes active. The compound always exists in brain pathway, but it is usually inactive. Researchers suggest that the compound was probably used long ago by bodies of primitive animals. Nowadays the compound still exists in mouse and human brains, but it not actually in use. IKKbeta/NK-kappaB also is being used by macrophages and leukocytes immune cells, but this usage entirely differs from brain one.

When hypothalamus is triggered by excess amount of food, IKKbeta/NK-kappaB goes active and causes metabolic inflammation within entire body. It makes the body ignore leptin signals. Leptin is a hormone controlling appetite, insulin and overall food transformation into energy. Thus the mice started eating more when brain pathway IKKbeta/NK-kappaB was activated.

"Our work marks an initial attempt to study whether inhibiting an innate immune pathway in the hypothalamus could help to calibrate the set point of nutritional balance and therefore aid in counteracting energy imbalance and diseases induced by overnutrition," the researchers said. "We recognize that the significance of this strategy has yet to be realized in clinical practice; currently, most anti-inflammatory therapies have limited direct effects on IKKß/NF-κB and limited capacity to be concentrated in the central nervous system. Nonetheless, our discoveries offer potential for treating these serious diseases."

This study explains why obesity leads to so many different diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, joint diseases. The study also suggests a theory that blocking IKKbeta/NK-kappaB compound in brain ma cut obesity risk.