A potential target in the battle against obesity has been discovered: a liver enzyme. Until recently, the liver was not thought to play an important role in controlling body weight. Now, researchers from the University of Melbourne believe they’ve identified a liver enzyme in mice that may actually be responsible for regulating how much food the animals eat, they reported in the journal Diabetes. And the discovery could have implications for weight control in humans.
When large quantities of high-fat foods are consumed, the body produces higher than normal amount of glucose. This is a common cause of diet-related illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. These types of health problems are on the rise in the developed world, and there’s a lot of research exploring the key organs and biochemical pathways involved in weight regulation. With a clearer picture of what systems become defective in such illnesses, researchers can develop more sophisticated and targeted treatments.
“Initially we thought that the mice over-expressing this enzyme would become diabetic, because this enzyme is normally important in producing more glucose in the liver,” said Barbara Fam from the university’s Molecular Obesity Laboratory group. “But we actually found that these mice were a lot leaner, and ate a lot less, than mice with normal amounts of FBPase”.
After these unexpected results, the group became interested in understanding how this enzyme in the liver had such a profound influence over appetite-regulating hormones in the brain.
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