Brain activity influencing protein may help treat obesity, diabetes

ANI| Last Updated: Jul 27, 2014, 16:06 PM IST
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Washington: A new study has found that a particular protein that controls gene and has a crucial role in certain brain areas to regulate metabolism, and could help in treatment of obesity and diabetes.

The research by UT Southwestern Medical Center potentially shows that the spliced X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1s), appears to influence the body's sensitivity to insulin and leptin signaling.

Co-first author of the study, Dr. Kevin Williams, said that the study identifies critical molecular mechanisms that link the brain and peripheral endocrine tissues and that ultimately contribute to the regulation of body weight and glucose metabolism.

Researchers found that over-expression of the gene Xbp1s in mice that were fed a high-fat diet protected them against obesity and diabetes. On average, these mice were 30 percent leaner than mice fed the same food. The gene's actions took place in pro-opiomelanocortin (Pomc) neurons in the hypothalamic region of the brain. Elevated Xbp1s levels in Pomc neurons mimicked a "fed" signal, resulting in improved body weight, decreased blood glucose levels, and improved insulin sensitivity in the liver.

No drug form of Xbp1s currently exists that could be used to test whether the gene is a target for the treatment of diabetes or obesity, though researchers see such a drug as a potential outgrowth of their research.

The study is published online in Cell Metabolism.