Appetite hormone misfires in obese people

Glucagon, a hormone involved in regulating appetite, loses its ability to help obese people feel full after a meal, but it continues to suppress hunger pangs in people with type 1 diabetes, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

The primary role of glucagon, a secreted by the pancreas, is to signal the body to release stored glucose when blood sugar falls too low. But growing evidence suggests the hormone also may play a role in controlling food intake and feelings of fullness, or satiation, through signaling the body to reduce levels of other appetite hormones like ghrelin.

"Once a person becomes obese, glucagon no longer induces feelings of fullness," said the study's lead author, Ayman M. Arafat, MD, of Charité-University Medicine in Berlin, Germany. "Further research is needed to determine why glucagon no longer suppresses appetite effectively in this population, even though they are otherwise healthy."

The prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study investigated glucagon levels and appetite among 11 , 13 people with and 13 lean people. Participants received injections of either glucagon or a placebo. Researchers then measured participants' appetites using a satiety scale as well as levels of the hormone ghrelin.

Feelings of fullness did not differ between obese study participants who received glucagon injections and those who were given the placebo. In comparison, participants who were lean or had type 1 reported feeling significantly more full after receiving glucagon. The response to the hormone was detectable in this population, even 24 hours after it was administered.

"The findings could influence efforts to develop new treatments for obesity and diabetes," Arafat said. "Although therapeutic agents that influence glucagon and other hormones currently are considered a promising avenue for research, this study suggests a treatment involving may be ineffective in controlling meal size in people who are obese."

More information: The article, "The Impact of Insulin-independent Glucagon-induced Suppression of Total-Ghrelin on Satiety in Obesity and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus," was published online Aug. 20.

Related Stories

New findings on glucagon synthesis

Dec 03, 2012

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have shown that the cells that produce glucagon are stimulated by the hormone itself. A previous study by the same group demonstrated that this principle also applies to insulin. ...

Recommended for you

When you lose weight, where does the fat go?

Dec 16, 2014

Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a UNSW Australia study shows.

Shed post-Christmas pounds just by breathing

Dec 16, 2014

Ever wondered where the fat goes when somebody loses weight? Most of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide, making the lungs the primary excretory organ for weight loss, explain Australian researchers in the ...

User comments

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.