Immune system molecule affects our weight

September 24, 2012

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have identified a molecule in the immune system that could affect hunger and satiety. The researchers hope that new treatments for obesity will benefit from this finding.

Interleukin-6 is a in our that plays an important role in fighting off infection. However, recent research has, surprisingly, shown that it can also trigger weight loss. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have been investigating and managed to identify the specific types of that are targeted by the interleukin-6 molecule.

The results show that the cells that are affected by interleukin-6 produce substances that not only affect our sense of hunger and fullness but also control the body's ability to burn fat. "Interleukin-6 increases levels of substances in the brain that trigger weight loss, which could explain why high levels of this molecule lead to weight loss," says Erik Schéle, who is presenting the results in his thesis.

It is known that our normally low levels of interleukin-6 in the brain increase dramatically during an infection, typically accompanied by reduced hunger and fatigue.

"Our previous findings would indicate that interleukin-6 can play a key role in regulating the metabolism of healthy individuals too," says Erik Schéle.

"This is clearly substantiated by our finding that mice which lack interleukin-6 get fat, and that the metabolism of rats injected with interleukin-6 directly into the brain increases."

Although it is not yet fully understood how interleukin-6 in the brain affects bodyweight, the researchers have concluded that anyone whose brain produces plenty of interleukin-6 could be protected against overweight. The thesis also shows that our indirectly affect the substances in the brain that regulate bodyweight.

"This is both surprising and new. It could in the long run lead to people fighting obesity by changing what they eat in line with how it affects the brain," says Erik Schéle.

Explore further: Scientists find molecule in immune system that could help treat dangerous skin cancer

Related Stories

Scientists find molecule in immune system that could help treat dangerous skin cancer

July 8, 2012
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have made a groundbreaking discovery that will shape the future of melanoma therapy. The team, led by Thomas S. Kupper, MD, chair of the BWH Department of Dermatology, and ...

Weight loss led to reduction in inflammation

May 1, 2012
Postmenopausal women who were overweight or obese and lost at least 5 percent of their body weight had a measurable reduction in markers of inflammation, according to a study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the ...

Recommended for you

Drug could cut transplant rejection

November 21, 2017
A diabetes drug currently undergoing development could be repurposed to help end transplant rejection, without the side-effects of current immunosuppressive drugs, according to new research by Queen Mary University of London ...

Study explores whole-body immunity

November 21, 2017
Over the next few months, millions of people will receive vaccinations in the hope of staving off the flu—and the fever, pain, and congestion that come with it.

Atopic eczema—one size does not fit all

November 21, 2017
Researchers from the UK and Netherlands have identified five distinct subgroups of eczema, a finding that helps explain how the condition can affect people at different stages of their lives.

Breast milk found to protect against food allergy

November 20, 2017
Eating allergenic foods during pregnancy can protect your child from food allergies, especially if you breastfeed, suggests new research from Boston Children's Hospital. The study, published online today in the Journal of ...

Zika-related nerve damage caused by immune response to the virus

November 20, 2017
The immune system's response to the Zika virus, rather than the virus itself, may be responsible for nerve-related complications of infection, according to a Yale study. This insight could lead to new ways of treating patients ...

How a poorly explored immune cell may impact cancer immunity and immunotherapy

November 17, 2017
The immune cells that are trained to fight off the body's invaders can become defective. It's what allows cancer to develop. So most research has targeted these co-called effector T-cells.

0 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.