Is it sleep or the lack of it that can cause weight gain or do we blame diet alone? A study understands the link.
Victor Uebele and colleagues, at Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, have now provided further evidence to support this association by showing that T-type calcium channels regulate body weight maintenance and sleep in mice. These data suggest that sleep and circadian treatment approaches may be of benefit in the fight against obesity.
Previous studies have shown that mice lacking the CaV3.1 T-type calcium channel have disrupted sleep/wake activity. In this study, the researchers found that these mice were resistant to weight gain when fed a high-fat diet. Consistent with these data, when normal-weight rodents were administered a drug that specifically antagonized T-type calcium channels during their inactive phase they showed increased sleep and were protected from weight gain due to a high-fat diet. Further, when the same drug was given to obese rodents it reduced body weight and fat mass. The authors conclude that the benefits of the drug are likely to be a result of better alignment of feeding patterns and the circadian rhythm, and that targeting T-type calcium channels might provide a new avenue of research for those developing drugs to treat obesity.