Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Leptin and obesity


For nearly a decade, scientists have known that leptin plays an important fat-burning role in humans. But the map of leptin’s path through the body – the key to understanding how and why the hormone works – is still incomplete.

Now a small but critical section of that map is charted, based on new research conducted at Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital and at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The research team found that leptin triggers production of the active form of a peptide – áMSH – in the hypothalamus, the small area in the base of the brain that controls hunger and metabolism. Researchers say this peptide, or small protein, is one of the body’s most powerful metabolism booster signals, sending a fast, strong message to the brain to burn calories.

This message is then sent to another part of the hypothalamus, where another peptide is produced and released. This stimulates the pituitary gland, which secretes a hormone that relays the message to the thyroid, the master of metabolism. Once activated, the thyroid gland then spreads word to the body’s cells to increase energy production.

Research results are published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the week of July 26. The team’s contribution to the understanding of leptin function – how áMSH is produced and its power as a metabolic messenger – could help in the search for an obesity treatment, said Eduardo Nillni, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Brown Medical School and in Brown’s Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Nillni is also a senior investigator in the Division of Endocrinology at Rhode Island Hospital.

"If somehow, through a drug, you can increase activity of áMSH, you’d force the body to burn more calories and lose weight," Nillni said. "That would help so many people."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 percent of adults are overweight or obese and 13 percent of children and adolescents are seriously overweight. This epidemic exacts a steep toll: Each year, about 300,000 Americans die of obesity-related causes. The economic cost of obesity was about $117 billion in 2000, the CDC also reports.

Working with grants from the National Institutes of Health, researchers studied chemical changes in the brains of mice and rats injected with leptin to arrive at their findings.

The Brown/Rhode Island Hospital research team included Nillni and Ronald Stuart. Christian Bjorbaek, Li Guo and Heike Munzberg worked on the project through Harvard and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>