Discovery may open door to drug that cuts appetite and boosts energy

July 20, 2009

In a major advance in obesity and diabetes research, Yale School of Medicine scientists have found that reducing levels of a key enzyme in the brain decreased appetites and increased energy levels.

Reductions in the levels of the enzyme prolylcarboxypeptidase (PRCP) led to weight loss and a decreased risk of in , according to research published in the August issue of the . The team found that PRCP is located in the and regulates levels of the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), which is a peptide known for inhibiting food intake and stimulating energy expenditure. Researchers found that blocking the PRCP enzyme keeps the alpha-MSH from being degraded, resulting in higher levels of alpha-MSH and decreased appetite.

"Our research provides the first evidence that breaking down molecules in the brain that regulate metabolism is an important component of weight control," said senior author Sabrina Diano, associate professor in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, and Neurobiology. "Our findings provide a possible new target for the development of drugs to control metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes."

Diano and her team conducted the study in congenic mice that were naturally lean and later in mice that had PRCP removed. Animals without the PRCP were leaner and ate less food. They also had higher levels of alpha-MSH in the hypothalamus compared to control animals. The mice were put on a diet of 45 percent fat—the equivalent of eating fast food everyday—and even with this high fat diet, they did not gain as much weight as control animals on a regular diet.

Diano said the next step is to study how PRCP is regulated.

More information: Journal of Clinical Investigation, Vol. 119, No. 8 (August 2009)

Source: Yale University (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Natural compound reduces signs of aging in healthy mice

October 27, 2016

Much of human health hinges on how well the body manufactures and uses energy. For reasons that remain unclear, cells' ability to produce energy declines with age, prompting scientists to suspect that the steady loss of efficiency ...

A metabolic switch to turn off obesity

October 27, 2016

You've tried all the diets. No matter: you've still regained the weight you lost, even though you ate well and you exercised regularly! This may be due to a particular enzyme in the brain: the alpha/beta hydrolase domain-6 ...

Mitochondria control stem cell fate

October 27, 2016

What happens in intestinal epithelial cells during a chronic illness? Basic research conducted at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) addressed this question by generating a new ...

Scientists develop 'world-first' 3-D mammary gland model

October 27, 2016

A team of researchers from Cardiff University and Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has succeeded in creating a three-dimensional mammary gland model that will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
American obesity research seems to only have one goal: to invent a pill that makes fat people unable to eat all the time.

What if that pill actually is found some day? Wouldn't that mean that then those people would still lay on the couch, eating only half as much hamburgers and chips? Not much of an improvement, if you ask me.

Shouldn't all that research effort go into finding out (and eventually rectifying) the reasons people eat the wrong food and too much of it?

Americans have the same genes, the same details of metabolism, as people in other countries. Yet, there are coutries where obesity is rare.

Better to start with what an individual is subjected to. What he sees (TV, media, ads, product placements), what he hears (peer attitudes, others' habits), what he has easiest access to (cooking food vs grabbing chips, ice cream and fast food off the shelves), etc.

In my neighborhood people use Diet Coke as ant repellent. Seems even insects know what's not good for them. (And it's a lot cheaper!)

Could it be that the constant "information" load from the media has erased folks' ability to sense what's good and what's not?

Could it be that merely switching to food simply made from fresh vegetables, fruit and meat (in the right proportions) could be enough to already halve the obesity problem?

This is the kind of things that should be studied, not how you can block some enzyme in the brain with a pill.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.