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Brain hormones affect fat and obesity

By Tim Sandle     Jan 23, 2015 in Science
A new study has found how certain hormones, active in the brain, affect levels of fat (and types of "good" and "bad" fat). In turn, this influences levels of obesity.
The new study has been conducted on mice. The research shows that the hormones insulin and leptin activate appetite-suppressing proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the brain that promote the conversion of “bad” white fat to “good” beige fat. Because of their energy-burning properties, brown and beige fats are considered superior to white fat (and some researchers think that having more brown fat is better for a person than having too much white fat.)
With the study, the researchers also infused leptin and insulin directly into the hypothalami of wild-type mice, which promoted the browning of white fat. However, when these hormones were infused but the neuronal connections between the white fat and the brain were physically severed, browning was prevented.
This part of the brain is of interest to researchers, according to The Scientist. Hypothalamic appetite-suppressing proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons are known to relay the satiety signals (the sense of feeling full) in the bloodstream to other parts of the brain and other tissues to promote energy balance. This is a mechanism that prevents most people from overeating. Some scientists have speculated that this mechanism malfunctions in some people, causing them to overeat and thereby being implicated in obesity.
The research could have implications for treating humans. Here the findings imply that resistance to the actions of the hormones leptin and insulin in POMC neurons is a key feature underlying obesity in people.
The study was carried out by a research team based at Monash University in Australia. The findings have been published in the journal Cell. The paper is titled “Leptin and Insulin Act on POMC Neurons to Promote the Browning of White Fat.”
More about Obesity, Brain, Hormones, Fat, Overweight
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