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

Antibody protects against Zika and dengue, mouse study shows

September 25, 2017
Brazil and other areas hardest hit by the Zika virus - which can cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads - are also home to dengue virus, which is spread by the same mosquito species.

Gene immunotherapy protects against multiple sclerosis in mice

September 21, 2017
A potent and long-lasting gene immunotherapy approach prevents and reverses symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice, according to a study published September 21st in the journal Molecular Therapy. Multiple sclerosis is an ...

New academic study reveals true extent of the link between hard water and eczema

September 21, 2017
Hard water damages our protective skin barrier and could contribute to the development of eczema, a new study has shown.

Exposure to pet and pest allergens during infancy linked to reduced asthma risk

September 19, 2017
Children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by 7 years of age, new research supported by the National Institutes of Health reveals. The findings, published ...

Cholesterol-like molecules switch off the engine in cancer-targeting 'Natural Killer' cells

September 18, 2017
Scientists have just discovered how the engine that powers cancer-killing cells functions. Crucially, their research also highlights how that engine is fuelled and that cholesterol-like molecules, called oxysterols, act as ...

MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system

September 18, 2017
The immune system automatically destroys dysfunctional cells such as cancer cells, but cancerous tumors often survive nonetheless. A new study by Salk scientists shows one method by which fast-growing tumors evade anti-tumor ...

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.