A team of researchers have uncovered a new potential target for therapeutics that could limit appetite and thereby obesity by studying the molecular control of appetite in mice.
Lead researchers Scott Waldman, at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia and colleagues found that nutrient intake by mice caused cells in their gut to secrete the precursor of the hormone uroguanylin (prouroguanylin) into the blood.
This travelled around the blood and was converted to uroguanylin in a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which is well known to be involved in decreasing appetite.
The active uroguanylin was then found to bind to proteins on nerve cells known as GUCY2C receptors, triggering a cascade of events that led to decreased food intake.
The data generated by Waldman and colleagues leads them to suggest that targeting this uroguanylin-GUCY2C pathway might provide a new approach to controlling appetite, obesity, and its associated health problems.