A study recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry explores just exactly why obesity perpetuates as an international epidemic, and the reasoning may be quite shocking.
Dr. Eduardo A. Nillni and his team if researchers have reported their discovery of a molecular causal sequence in the brains of obese test rats that overrides their ability to suppress appetite as well as caloric expenditure.
In a brutal cycle, including the alteration of how brain cells process protein, obesity only allows for further obesity while making recovery an insurmountable task. However, in a much less pessimistic discovery at Brown University, this cycle has a massive weak spot and can be broken by altering the core protein processing hindrance.
Prior to the study, researchers knew that one tool by which obesity sustains itself is a resistance to leptin, the hormone that communicates the status of total fat in the body. However, Dr. Nillni and a Rhode Island Hospital researcher observed that obese rats had a significant shortage of another important hormone, Alpha-MSH.
Alpha-MSH has two major functions in the hypothalamus domain of the brain. The first major function of Alpha-MSH is to actively suppress the animation of food-seeking cells. Secondly, Alpha-MSH causes other brain cells to create the hormone TRH, which prompts rapid calorie burning activity.
In the obese rats that were studied, Alpha-MSH was low, regardless of the great supply of leptin. The team knew that there had to be something more than leptin at work, and the problem was not with the expression of needed genes.
In response, Dr. Nillni along with Dr. Isin Cakir, and Nicole Cyr began a new study to find out where the Alpha-MSH deficit originated. To begin, the research team fed a group of rats a high-calorie diet and then fed another group a normal diet for a 3-month period. The obese rats developed the condition of “diet-induced obesity.” Dr. Nillni and his team then examined the hormone levels and brain physiology of the rats.
"In our study we showed that what actually prevents the production of more alpha-MSH peptide is that ER stress was decreasing the biosynthesis of POMC by affecting one key enzyme that is essential for the formation of alpha-MSH," Nillni stated. "This is so novel. Nobody ever looked at that… Understanding the central control of energy-regulating neuropeptides during diet-induced obesity is important for the identification of therapeutic targets to prevent and or mitigate obesity pathology."
Balanced nutrition and exercise are both vital to good long-term health, proper development, and are essential to combat heart disease, diabetes and many other health conditions. Looking for help managing your weight or conditions brought on due to obesity? Diet and exercise can be tough to go alone, don't be afraid to check out a local diabetes support group for the motivation you need.