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Brain enzyme may play key role in controlling appetite and weight gain
Date:12/12/2008

peptides [small chains of amino acids] that normally stimulate feeding," says Dr. Schwartz. "When we lowered S6K activity, we saw essentially the opposite response."

The way increased S6K activity reduced the rats' food intake is important, says Dr. Schwartz: reducing the average size of meals rather than changing the number of meals over the course of a day. So the animals apparently were sated faster and therefore ate less at every meal.

In another experiment, the researchers tested whether increased S6K activity would protect against the natural tendency of mammals on a high-fat diet to overeat. People deal with all those calories by putting on extra weight and becoming insensitive to insulin two of the hallmarks of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When animals on a high-fat diet were given the S6K-enhancing virus, they overate less and gained weight more slowly than control animals, the researchers report. In addition, the virus-enhanced animals had lower body-fat levels and better glucose tolerance than the control group.

Overall, the study shows that S6K acts as a kind of food-sensing thermostat in mammals, increasing or decreasing feeding behavior and metabolism to maintain a normal energy balance. "These findings show that it may be possible to control obesity and other human metabolic disorders by developing drugs that regulate S6K activity," says Dr. Schwartz.


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Contact: Michael Heller
mheller@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-4186
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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