Brain plays key role in appetite by regulating free radicals

Jul 30, 2008

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found the brain's appetite center uses fat for fuel by involving oxygen free radicals—molecules associated with aging and neurodegeneration. The findings, reported in the journal Nature, suggest that antioxidants could play a role in weight control.

The study's lead authors were Sabrina Diano and Tamas Horvath, who are an associate professor and professor, respectively, in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Neurobiology. Horvath is also chair of the Section of Comparative Medicine.

"In contrast to the accepted view, the brain does use fat as fuel," said Horvath. "Our study shows that the minute-by-minute control of appetite is regulated by free radicals, implying that if you interfere with free radicals, you may affect eating and satiety."

The results also imply, added Horvath, "that each time a feeling of fullness or satiety is reached during a meal, you may be chipping away some time from your maximum lifespan as the most free radicals are produced when satiety-promoting brain cells are active."

Diano, Horvath and colleagues conducted the study in mice to better understand how the brain mediates neuronal activation in response to ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and previously associated with growth hormone release, appetite, learning and memory.

They found that ghrelin-induced increase in appetite is driven by burning fat in hypothalamic mitochondria, which produces free radicals that are scavenged by a mitochondrial protein called uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2).

"The timing of taking antioxidants may be critical for the control of appetite," said Diano. "If taken on an empty stomach antioxidants may further increase appetite, however when taken with food, they may affect satiety. Further studies are needed to determine whether any regiment of orally taken antioxidants could be used to control appetite in animals and humans."

Citation: Nature Vol. 454, 7204 (July 30, 2008)

Source: Yale University

Explore further: Three-people IVF debate process on the move in UK

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Intestinal parasites are 'old friends,' researchers argue

1 hour ago

Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms and a protist called Blastocystis can be beneficial to human health, according to a new paper that argues we should rethink our views of organisms that live off the human ...

Researchers unlock the protein puzzle

1 hour ago

By using brightly hued dyes, George Mason University researchers discovered an innovative way to reveal where proteins touch each other, possibly leading to new treatments for cancer, arthritis, heart disease and even lung ...

User comments : 0