A new study has revealed a signal pathway to control binge eating

A new study has revealed a signal pathway to control binge eating ...

According to a press release issued by the University of Cologne on Thursday, an entirely new approach to treating eating disorders may be the key to finally controlling harmful impulses.

Neuronal pathways that stimulate food intake

The researchers examined mouse models to determine whether or not a group of nerve cells in the hypothalamus (so-called AgRP, agouti-related peptide neurons) regulates the release of endogenous lysophospholipids, which in turn regulate the excitability of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, which stimulate food intake.

AgRP neurons located in the hypothalamus could, according to the researchers, induce hunger sensations when activated. In this study, AgRPs were also linked to an enzyme called autotaxin (ATX).

Through an intensive research, the researchers discovered that inhibiting ATX in mice would help to reduce food cravings in animals.

"We saw a significant reduction in excessive food consumption and obesity through gene mutation and pharmacological inhibition of ATX," according to Johannes Vogt, a professor at the University of Cologne's Faculty of Medicine.

The ATX, which is responsible for the production of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) in the brain, acts as a network activity manager in this process. The researchers concluded that administering autotaxin inhibitors might potentially significantly reduce both excessive food intake and obesity in animals.

"People with a disturbed synaptic LPA signaling pathway are more likely to be overweight and develop type II diabetes," says neuroscientist Robert Nitsch from the University of Munster in Germany.

Proposed results

The research is still under development, but the first findings are certainly encouraging. This latest research might represent an important first step in efforts to combat eating disorders and obesity through the use of targeted medications.

Any such efforts have so far largely failed. The new approach, however, shows promise for also aiding in the treatment of various neurological and psychiatric conditions.

The researchers are currently developing a series of ATX-blocking medications for future testing on obese individuals. They will not have to look very far to find test subjects.

In 2021, the Robert Koch Institute estimated that 67 percent of men and 53 percent of women in Germany are overweight, with 23 percent of adults being severely overweight (obese). This is extremely concerning considering that obesity may result in many serious health problems and may even interfere with cancer treatment.

Could this be the treatment we've been waiting for?

The research has been published in the Nature journal.

Phospholipid levels are influenced by peripheral metabolism. During sleep, synaptic phospholipids regulate glutamatergic transmission and cortical excitability. Mice with a human mutation (Prg-1R346T) demonstrating increased fasting-induced hyperphagia have a greater likelihood of type2 diabetes. AgRP-expressing cells in adult mice reduce the number of circulating LPAs while increasing hyperphagia.

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