The blood stream carries the NAPE molecule to the brain — where it tells the brain to shut down the appetite. It's a compound that is made from triglycerides, the kind of fat you find in meat.
"We showed that this doesn't increase with carbohydrate feeding, does not increase with protein feeding, just fat feeding," said Gerald Shulman, who conducted the research with his colleagues at Yale University's School of Medicine.
The Yale team showed that doses of synthetic NAPE given to mice and rats led the animals to avoid eating.
"Here, we show that NAPEs are secreted into circulation from the small intestine in response to ingested fat and that systemic administration of the most abundant circulating NAPE, at physiologic doses, decreases food intake in rats without causing conditioned taste aversion... chronic NAPE infusion results in a reduction of both food intake and body weight, suggesting that NAPE and long-acting NAPE analogs may be novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity, " the researchers said in a recent article in journal Cell.
Randy Seeley, the associate director of the Obesity Research Center at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, says the discovery could be an important tool in helping people struggling obesity. But it could be years before the benefits of the NAPE molecule are fully verified, he said.