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Friday, 28 October 2005 12:44
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Scientists make appetite discovery
Scientists believe they are a step closer to understanding how to control appetite after two studies in Science magazine looked at brain signals that appear to suppress hunger.

Tests on mice have shown that killing off particular neurons and boosting particular proteins makes mice eat less and the research teams from Boston and Seattle believe humans share similar appetite pathways.

The first study looked at the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) compound that has been shown to cause weight loss in humans and mice by blocking signals that stimulate appetite.

Dr Maia Kokoeva and colleagues at Harvard Medical School looked what happened when they gave CNTF to mice.

CNTF prompted a growth of new neurons in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls appetite and energy. The CNTF is believed to activate a pathway that makes the brain more responsive to the hormone leptin, which tell sthe body how well fed it is.

The second study, by University of Washington researchers, looked at the POMC and NPY/AgRP neurons that are involved in appetite. POMC neurons tell the brain to reduce appetite. Mice with defects in the POMC neurons quickly become obese.

Mice who had their NPY/AgRP neurons eliminated in adulthood ate less and less, but when the neurons were eliminated in baby mice, they continued to eat normally, suggesting that if the NPY/AgRP neurons are eliminated before they are fully functional, the body somehow compensates.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Palmiter said: "Everybody in the field believes that NPY/AgRP neurons and POMC neurons are undoubtedly doing the same in humans as they do in rodents. So I would predict that if you could do the experiment in humans, the results would be the same."


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