JUN 19, 2019 09:02 PM PDT

Research Reveals Role of Leptin in Human Appetite

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Mikyska

Image: Reichenbach et al., 2012

 

A drop in leptin concentration, a hormone released from fat stores, was vaguely understood to influence increased appetite.  New research out of Yale University shows that an unexpected intermediate step in the endocrine system connects the decrease of leptin secretion and increased feeling of appetite.

The body tracks fluctuations in leptin concentration, monitoring when leptin (and therefore, fat) decreases.  The critical decrease in leptin that triggers a response depends on the normal range of leptin secretion in the individual.  

A drop in blood sugar concentration, because of short-term starvation (dieting) or unmanaged diabetes, triggers the breakdown of fat stores, which reduces leptin secretion, and causes energetic stress.  The stress of maintaining homeostasis triggers the release of “stress hormones,” in this case, corticosterone.  Blood plasma transports corticosterone from the adrenal glands to the brain.  The research found that corticosterone is an inhibitor of the AgRP neuron receptors.  AgRP neurons naturally suppress appetite, but when bound to corticosterone, the receptors are inhibited, and the feeling of appetite is present.  

The discovery of leptin was thought to change the weight-loss industry, but surrounding biochemical pathways were not studied.  This blind spot in research left the assumption that leptin concentration was linearly related to appetite.  The new study out of Yale University gives further insight into related biochemical pathways and offers AgRP receptors as the next frontier for combating obesity.  Gene therapy has exponentially expanded in recent years, and the inactivation of neuron receptors is well within the realm of possibilities.  However, as an author of the study remarked, thorough research into the viability of AgRP as a therapeutic target would need to be conducted.

 

 

Sources: Shulman et al., ScienceDaily, Medical and Life Sciences News, E. Hormone

About the Author
  • Amanda graduated for the University of Massachusetts Boston with a degree in Biology. After working in research on creating biochemicals from genetically engineered yeast, she started freelance science writing while traveling the world. She writes about the latest research in Neuroscience, Genetics & Genomics, and Immunology. Interested in working on solutions for food/water security, sustainable fuel, and sustainable farming. Amanda is an avid skier, podcast listener, and has run two triathlons.
You May Also Like
JAN 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 17, 2020
Can CRISPR Replace Antibiotics?
Antibiotic-resistant infections claim around 700,000 lives per year, with estimates saying that this number could swell to 10 million by 2050 (Jacobs: 2019...
JAN 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 17, 2020
Using Genetics to Study the History of Rome
While archaeologists and historians have been studying Ancient Rome for many years, there are still things we don't know....
JAN 17, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 17, 2020
Probiotics Linked to Bloodstream Infections in ICU Patients
Probiotics, which are live microbes, are intended to improve human health, and they are sometimes given to intensive care unit patients of all ages....
JAN 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 17, 2020
Linking Genes and Behavior in an Assessment of Personality in Animals
Anyone that's owned dogs knows that they have a personality, and the same is true of mice....
JAN 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 17, 2020
Learning More About How Gene Variants Impact Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is caused by a genetic mutation, but small changes other genes appear to influence the severity of the disease....
JAN 17, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 17, 2020
Healthy Sleep May Offset Genetic Heart Disease Risk
People with a high genetic risk of heart disease or stroke may be able to offset that risk with healthy sleep patterns, according to new research. The rese...
Loading Comments...