Researchers have identified a hormone that is associated with obesity. Researchers from the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada have discovered a type of the hormone serotonin may be linked to reducing brown fat activity in the body. Brown fat, as researchers have discovered, is a beneficial form of fat that works as the body’s furnace that burns glucose and energy to produce heat. The researchers found out that a specific type of serotonin may be inhibiting brown fat activity in the body and may be a contributing factor in obesity and diabetes.
The researchers explained that there are two types of serotonin, a type of hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter that relays signals from one area of the brain to another. Most people are aware that this hormone affects a person’s mood and appetite. But that is only about 5 percent of the total serotonin used by the body. The other 95 percent is known as peripheral serotonin. This circulates in the blood and may be the one reducing brown fat activity, according to researchers. In the first study they made, the researchers have shown that blocking the creation of this type of serotonin can result in more brown fat activity.
According to Prof. Gregory Steinberg, of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and co-director of the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program at McMaster University and lead researcher of the said study, “Our results are quite striking and indicate that inhibiting the production of this hormone may be very effective for reversing obesity and related metabolic diseases including diabetes.”
Prof. Steinberg and his team also noted that the majority of the body’s serotonin is produced by a type of enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase or Tph1. When they tried to block or genetically remove Tph1 in mice that were fed with a high fat diet, the mice showed improved brown fat ability to burn more calories and protecting them against the effects of obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Prof. Steinberg adds that trying to inhibit the peripheral serotonin does not have an effect on brain serotonin or the general functions of the central nervous system. It works in contrast with other previous weight-loss drugs that alter serotonin levels to suppress appetite. These drugs are linked to cardiac complications as well as increased depression risk. The researchers are focusing this time in controlling serotonin levels that increase energy expenditure rather than serotonin levels that suppress appetite. The researchers are now working on developing a drug that can reduce serotonin production by inhibiting Tph1. Results of the study are published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Source: Medical News Today