A study in the May 24th issue of Nature reveals that the Obesity Hormone - Leptin, targets multiple nerve sites and affects the brain in more complex way than previously believed. This break through has opened up an avenue to develop drugs to treat Obesity and many nutrition related disorders like anorexia nervosa. Dr. Malcolm J. Low of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland led the study.
Drugs could also be developed to reverse leptin resistance in obese individuals, Dr. Low said. In may cases obesity associated with a resistance to the effects of leptin in the same way that type 2 diabetes is caused by a resistance to the hormone insulin.
Dr.Low said that his team found in mice, leptin activates brain cells called proopiomelanocortin neurons and also binds to the receptors on a second type of cell. This duel mechanism of leptin action on two interconnected types of neurons was previously unknown.
This mechanism may be an important of the brains ability to maintain a balance between long-term body weight and short-term energy demands, he said. Unknown facts about appetite, motivation to eat and feeding behaviour may all be explained by the study.