Hormone research could have hopeful implications for both underweight and overweight people

The appetite is controlled via a complex system that involves the hypothalamus, the brainstem and the cerebral cortex. Hormones also have an important role to play in this system. Researchers from the Clinical Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the MedUni Vienna's University Department of Internal Medicine III have demonstrated that ghrelin, a hormone in the gastrointestinal tract, is regulated differently in fat and thin people, thereby contributing to deviations from the individual's ideal weight.

The team led by Anton Luger, Head of the Clinical Division of at the MedUni Vienna, is investigating the processes involved with and possible factors that can influence them. Substances that have a direct effect such as ghrelin, and which are termed agonists, boost the appetite-stimulating effect. This may help encourage extremely thin and weak individuals such as patients with cancer, the elderly and to eat. Substances that work on the receptor as antagonists, i.e. which counteract ghrelin and therefore block this appetite-stimulating effect, could reduce feelings of hunger in patients who are overweight.

"Our research, which sheds light on the mechanisms that regulate appetite, could represent a step towards the development of a substance that helps overweight people to control their body weight more effectively and also help very thin people to develop an appetite," says Luger. Ghrelin and other appetite regulators also simultaneously influence the metabolism of energy, thereby having a dual effect on body weight.

Anton Luger's team is currently working on trying to determine which areas of the brain are activated when people experience appetite, and how these can be influenced. The initial results will be presented at the 15th Congress of the European Neuroendocrine Association (ENEA). The world's largest congress for neuroendocrinology is being held at the Hofburg in Vienna from the 12th to the 15th of September. One of the speakers is Jeffrey Friedman, the discoverer of leptin, a hormone in fatty tissue that plays an important role in regulating body weight and the metabolism of energy. The event is being held under the aegis of the MedUni Vienna. Anton Luger is president of the congress.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A weak heart produces a poor appetite

Jul 12, 2012

Heart-brain-stomach link of major importance for diabetes and heart failure discovered: as a recent study by the MedUni Vienna has demonstrated, the hormone BNP, generated by the heart, also has an appetite-inhibiting ...

Appetite hormones may predict weight regain after dieting

Sep 09, 2010

Many people have experienced the frustration that comes with regaining weight that was lost from dieting. According to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Me ...

'Yo-yo' effect of slimming diets explained

Jan 12, 2011

If you want to lose the kilos you've put on over Christmas, you may be interested in knowing that the hormones related to appetite play an important role in your likelihood of regaining weight after dieting. ...

Hunger hormone enhances sense of smell

Apr 12, 2011

An appetite-stimulating hormone causes people and animals to sniff odors more often and with greater sensitivity, according to a new study in the April 13 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest ghreli ...

Recommended for you

Childhood trauma could lead to adult obesity

3 hours ago

Being subjected to abuse during childhood entails a markedly increased risk of developing obesity as an adult. This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis carried out on previous studies, which included a total ...

User comments