How the Discovery of a Hormone Can Help Conquer Obesity

How the Discovery of a Hormone Can Help Conquer Obesity

How the Discovery of a Hormone Can Help Conquer Obesity

Recently some research studies have confirmed a long held suspicion – the role of brown fat in acting as the body’s natural fat burner. Also known as brown adipose tissue, brown fat has always aided in the burning of energy and glucose in the blood, converting it into heat. The more brown fat there is, the quicker will be the pace at which the metabolism works.

It was found that brown fat is the body’s own natural furnace and that obese individuals had less of the adipose tissue than regular individuals. And the reason behind this was in the form of a specific hormone. In obese people, the brown fat activity was dangerously low, thanks to the elevated occurrence of a specific hormone. From obesity, even diabetes would not be too far off.

The Discovery and Its Impact

Brown adipose tissue and its effects were studied at length at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine by Prof. Gregory Steinberg. His team of researchers went on to publish their work in Nature Medicine. Professor Steinberg also happens to be the co-director of the Metabolism and Childhood Obesity Research Program at McMaster University.

During their research, Prof. Steinberg studied the effects of the two kinds of serotonin in the body, a chemical that regulates mood and appetite and originates in the body. It’s a neurotransmitter. And the one that affects mood and appetite is present in only 5% of the serotonin levels of the body. The other remaining 95% is known as peripheral serotonin. Basically, this is the ‘smoking gun’ that the researchers found to be inhibiting the brown fat’s purpose – to break down energy.

So, by blocking this serotonin, the study found that you can create more brown fat in your body. This development alone represents a significant step forward in the war against obesity and diabetes. It was also found that brown fat’s ability to burn calories can also be enhanced by the blocking of a certain enzyme.

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Tph1 Enzyme and Its Impact on Brown Fat

The body’s serotonin supply is responsibly largely as a result of an enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase also known as Tph1. Just removing this enzyme in lab mice and feeding them a high fat diet resulted in a far-reaching change – the mice burnt more calories than normal. Their bodies grew accustomed to this new change quickly and their incidence of contracting obesity, pre-diabetes or even fatty liver disease went down. As a bonus, it was also observed these mice with high brown adipose tissue were better protected against the cold. It took them long before they started shivering.

How Much Peripheral Serotonin Is Good?

The researchers believe too much serotonin levels aren’t good. They make the body’s incidence of brown fat abnormally unbalanced. And furthermore, it was observed that there was no change in the brain or the nervous system. This development alone gave it an edge against other anti-obesity pills. There are no side effects associated with this finding, and it doesn’t even significantly alter diet and moods.

The Future

Based on this finding, the professor and his team are going to test pills which ensure that brown adipose tissue is kept at a recommended level in the human body. Not only will this help burn fat in the body but it will also help stave off the incidence of high blood glucose. This can even save the economy a fortune in diabetes treatment as by attacking obesity, the risk of diabetes also goes down to a large extent. The world can become a better place as these findings transition from theory to medical trials.