Anti-fat Hormones May Fight Obesity By Controling Appetite
A substance found in the small intestine may be the appetite suppressant the world is waiting for to fight obesity and help you to keep the extra weight off. The molecule, N-Acylphosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE) is produced when fatty foods are ingested. NAPE is carried to the brain where it acts as a feedback loop and tells the brain to shut down eating.
Scientists at Yale studied the substance and found that mice and rats that were injected with NAPE ate less food and lost weight. Nape seemed to reduce appetite by acting on neurons in the hypothalamus that stimulate hunger by reducing the activity of those neurons. Writing in the journal, Cell, the researchers believe this discovery could lead to new approaches to fighting obesity. Read about how eating fast makes you fat and obese.
When rodents ate a fatty meal, their NAPE levels rose. There was no increase in NAPE with protein or carbohydrates. The scientists injected synthetic NAPE into the abdomen of the animals and their appetites also diminished. They injected this substance, which can potentially fight obesity, into the brain and the results were the same, indicating that there is a direct effect on the brain neurons. When the animals were given NAPE for five days, they ate less and lost 10% of their body weight. Decreased taste sensitivity is also linked to obesity in a new study.
Dr. Gerald Shulman, Yale professor of medicine and cellular and molecular physiology and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical School was the lead of this obesity fighting research. Shulman said “If chronic NAPE treatment is well tolerated and can cause weight loss by a reduction of food intake, we would have strong impetus to move toward human NAPE trials.”
Obesity has become a world wide epidemic and effective obesity treatments are few. Clinical trials of the hormone, Leptin, have proven disappointing, even though mouse studies showed a 30% loss of body weight in mice. The biotech company Amgen paid $20 million to license the hormone, but it proved ineffective in humans.
Research continues on neurotransmitters, noradrenalin, dopamine and serotonin as appetite suppressants but to date, obesity drugs that have been effective have not been safe and those that are safe are ineffective.
In the United States, about 66% of adults are obese or overweight, as are 16% of kids aged 6 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bariatric surgery is one of the fastest growing procedures and the long-term complications are still unknown. Read about bariatric surgery complications being high in some hospitals.
An effective and safe appetite suppressant would be welcomed and Dr. Shulman and his colleagues plan to continue testing NAPE in primate trials. If the results are good, human studies will follow and the world will be watching the results of a study with possible breakthrough obesity treatment.