A report in the August issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism might help to explain why it’s so frustratingly difficult to stick to a diet. When we don’t eat, hunger-inducing neurons in the brain start eating bits of themselves. That act of self-cannibalism turns up as a hunger signal to prompt eating.
“A pathway that is really important for every cell to turn over components in a kind of housekeeping process is also required to regulate appetite,” said Rajat Singh of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The cellular process uncovered in neurons of the brain’s hypothalamus is known as autophagy (literally self-eating.) Singh says the new findings in mice suggest that treatments aimed at blocking autophagy may prove useful as hunger-fighting