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Without feeling full: Faulty messenger in the brain leads us into the overweight crisis

Without feeling full: Faulty messenger in the brain leads us into the overweight crisis


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How misguided satiety nerves plunge the brain into a crisis

The global overweight crisis is at a record high with an upward trend. Research groups are desperately looking for new knowledge and therapeutic intervention options to counter this development. German researchers have now found a type of switch in the brain that controls the function of satiety nerves and thus also body weight.

Researchers at the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity (IDO) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München identified a mechanism in the brain that controls body weight. Various studies have suggested the existence of this brain function for ten years. If the control of the newly discovered molecular switch is disrupted, there is no feeling of satiety among those affected. The study was recently published in the renowned journal "Nature Metabolism".

The brain tells us when we are full

"Whether we are hungry or feel full is largely determined in the brain," explains study author Dr. Alexandre Fisette in a press release on the research results. According to the study, two groups of nerve cells in the hypothalamic brain region use different messenger substances to control body weight and energy balance. The two groups create a delicate interplay. One group encourages the body to eat, the other creates a feeling of satiety and keeps the body from an excessive supply of nutrients. Disrupting this balance can be the cause of obesity and diabetes.

A messenger regulates the delicate balance

In the current study, the researchers identified a messenger substance that plays the key role in this interplay. The so-called transcription factor Tbx3 controls important processes for maintaining the energy and sugar metabolism. Transcription factors are proteins that, like a switch, ensure that certain genes are read or not. "Specifically, this means that without Tbx3 the nerve cells cannot produce any messenger substances for the feeling of satiety," reports Dr. Carmelo Quarta, another author of the study.

Without Tbx3, the brain gets into an identity crisis

In both fruit flies and human nerve cells, the researchers were able to show how the lack of the Tbx3 protein leads to a kind of identity crisis in the satiety nerves. This can lead to pathological obesity and obesity. "It has been reported for a long time that people who lack the Tbx3 gene often suffer from obesity," added study leader Prof. Dr. h.c. Matthias H. Tschöp. The current research work explains for the first time the underlying mechanism and the underlying metabolic processes. The research team sees in this process a possible approach for drugs that are supposed to bring the messed up metabolism back into balance. (vb)

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