New antiobesity gene discovered

12 10 2007

A new research has revealed an antiobesity gene that keeps worms and mice trim, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. If the gene works similarly in humans, the findings could lead to a new weapon against obesity.

The research has shown how animals without a working copy of the gene, known as Adipose (Adp), become obese and resistant to insulin, while those with increased Adp activity in fat tissue become slimmer. During the study, researchers used a treatment that increased Adp in the animals’ fat tissue, leding them to lose weight.

While fat storage is an important mechanism for getting through lean times, too much fat in times of plenty has deleterious consequences. In a modern world where many people have essentially unlimited access to food, it’s a wonder that even more people aren’t overweight. If this gene plays a similar role in humans it might mean that those with a high food intake but still lean, Adp would work well, while in those who are fat would’t be working properly.

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ESPEN Congress in Prague

7 09 2007

I’m leaving a few days to a attend a congress in Prague (Czech Republic). It’s the first time I’m going to an international congress, so I hope I won’t be overwhelmed when I present our study in the poster sessions on Monday.

The ESPEN Congress is one of the most important events in the field of clinical nutrition and metabolism in the world. The programme is extensive, so I guess I won’t have much time to do some sightseeing. Oh well, that can be the excuse to go back some day 🙂

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Why eating feels so good?

21 08 2007

Unless in some disease states, we all more or less love eating. Eating allows us to get all the nutrients our body needs to work properly, so we could say that food (and sex) is what keeps mankind going (and they’re both great). Food sometimes can taste good and some others not that good, but when you are starving ANYTHING tastes like heaven. But why?

The need to eat is initiated, in part, by a hormone known as ghrelin. Although ghrelin is known to be produced in the gut and to trigger the brain to promote eating, it remains to be determined precisely how ghrelin affects different parts of the brain.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers have shown that in mice and rats ghrelin triggers the same neurons as delicious food, sexual experience, and many recreational drugs; that is, neurons that provide the sensation of pleasure and the expectation of reward. There you have it.

The researchers have found that ghrelin bound its receptor on neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. They also observed that the infusion of ghrelin into the brain area where this neurons are located increased the food intake of rats.

Thus, this region of the brain is identified as a site of action for ghrelin to induce food intake, but is also triggered by many recreational drugs and is known to produce the expectation of reward.

Now, next time you are hungry remember ghrelin is kicking in 😉

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Scientists Map the Human Metabolome

27 01 2007

The first draft of the human metabolome has been published by scientists at the University of Alberta, in Canada.

The metabolome will complement the information of the human genome. It will be like a database of the different metabolic pathways, making it easy for scientists to develop new treatments for many kind of diseases.

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Calorie restriction may fight aging

22 08 2006

Big Burger Some time ago I watched a program on TV where some people believed that calorie restriction could lead to a longer life. They followed a special diet, low in calories and high in micronutrients. Now it seems those advocates for a low-calorie diet may be right.

After a few preliminary studies, results suggests that eating a low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet extends human life. It seems that six months of calorie restriction reduces two key markers of aging: fasting insulin levels and body temperature. Also, after an average of six years on calorie restriction, people’s hearts functions like the hearts of much younger people.

The studies show that the hearts of people on calorie restriction appear more elastic than those of age- and gender-matched control subjects. All subjects who dieted or increased their exercise lost weight and body fat. But those on a calorie restriction diet ended the study with lower fasting insulin levels and lower core body temperatures. They also had less oxidative damage to their DNA, thought to be a marker of aging at the biochemical and cellular level.

Researchers are getting ready to launch a second phase of an important study called CALERIE, to look at the effects of calorie restriction over the course of two years. In this study is involved the Calorie Restriction Society, whose members served as subjects in a previous study.

Check these two studies for more information:

Long-Term Caloric Restriction Ameliorates the Decline in Diastolic Function in Humans

Effect of 6-Month Calorie Restriction on Biomarkers of Longevity, Metabolic Adaptation, and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Individuals

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New promising weight loss and appetite suppressor molecule

27 07 2006

An international research team has discovered a protein, known as the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), that acts directly within muscles to increase the body’s metabolism to burn fat and carbohydrates while simultaneously suppressing appetite. This research shows how CNTF activates similar pathways to those stimulated by exercise.

The study, titled “CNTF reverses obesity-induced insulin resistance by activating skeletal muscle AMPK” has been published by Nature Medicine.

This reminds me all the fuss about the ghrelin/leptin hormones, that were initially thought to be the cure-all for weight loss. Later on, they were found to be ineffective because the metabolic pathways leading to obesity are much more complex. But it seems that CNTF overcomes leptin resistance and the effects on fat burning are maintained.

Researchers already think that CNTF could play a key role as a weight loss agent and reducing the risk of metabolic abnormalities associated with excess weight. In the meantime, the best we can do is to stick to physical activity and a healthy diet as lifestyle factors to combat obesity and its related diseases.

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