is an epidemic that plagues the world. It is
a consequence of today's lifestyle of fast foods and desk jobs, though genes
may also be responsible. Obesity is linked to several other diseases like heart
disease, diabetes, fatty liver, stroke, and arthritis to name a few. Some drugs
that were used for the treatment of obesity like sibutramine have been
withdrawn due to side effects.
, where the size of
the stomach is reduced by surgery, has shown to be beneficial in patients with
obesity but has operative morbidity and its own risks.
Leptin has been one of the main focuses in the
discovery of drugs for obesity. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone that
is secreted by the fat cells and inhibits hunger. It informs the brain that the
body has enough fat stores and therefore the person does not have to eat
immediately. People with obesity suffer from leptin resistance
the brain is insensitive to leptin and does not react to signals from leptin,
and therefore the patient tends to eat more despite having enough reserves.
This results in obesity.
In their search for effective anti-obesity drugs
, researchers investigated the
effect of celastrol, which is obtained from a herb used in Chinese medicine, on
obese mice. The result of the study was published in the journal - Cell
The researchers found that celastrol reduced food
intake, blocked reduction of energy expenditure, and caused up to 45% weight
loss in the obese mice. This effect was seen in mice with high leptin levels,
which indicates that they had leptin resistance. This effect was not seen in
those mice with low leptin levels or those that lacked leptin receptors (sites
on the brain where the leptin acts). Thus, it was concluded that celastrol
probably acts as a leptin
sensitizer and could
provide a lead to the development of a drug for the treatment of obesity.
However, the use of this molecule as an anti-obesity
therapeutic agent is at the level of animal studies. Until and unless further
studies are conducted in animals and humans and the safety and efficacy of the
molecule is established, exercise and dieting remain the best options to get
rid of excess fat.