- Brain cells called Tanycytes which control the appetite has been identified for the first time.
- Tanycytes detect amino acids from food and tells the brain that we feel full.
- Pork shoulder, beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocadoes, lentils and almonds contain specific amino acid that activates tanycytes and make us feel fuller and quicker.
Brain cells which control the appetite detect nutrients in food and tell the brain directly about the food we have eaten.
Professor Nicholas Dale in the School of Life Sciences has identified for the first time that tanycytes - cells found in part of the brain that controls energy levels and responds to amino acids found in foods.
‘Tanycytes - cells in the brain detect amino acids which impart a feeling of fullness and informs the brain region that induces satiety.’
Brain Receptors That Indicate Satiety
The brain receptors have the same sense the flavor of amino acids which are found in the taste buds of the tongue. Among the amino acids, arginine and lysine are most responsive, found in foods such as pork shoulder, beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocadoes, lentils and almonds. Consuming these foods activate tanycytes and increase satiety levels.
Presence of Amino Acids Induces Brain Receptors to Satiety
The research team added concentrated amounts of arginine and lysine into brain cells. These cells were made fluorescent so that any microscopic reactions would be visible. Thirty seconds after adding the amino acids, the tanycytes detected and responded to the amino acids, releasing information to the part of the brain that controls appetite and body weight.
They found that signals from amino acids are directly detected by the umami taste receptors by removing or blocking these receptors and observing that the amino acids no longer reacted with tanycytes.
Nicholas Dale, who is Ted Pridgeon Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Warwick, commented:
"Amino acid levels in blood and brain following a meal are a very important signal that imparts the sensation of feeling full. Finding that tanycytes, located at the centre of the brain region that controls body weight, directly sense amino acids has very significant implications for coming up with new ways to help people to control their body weight within healthy bounds."
Further Research on Tanycytes
This discovery opens up new possibilities for creating more effective diets - and even future treatments to suppress appetite by directly activating the brain's tanycytes, bypassing food and the digestive system.
Also, diets rich in arginine and lysine can be included as part of the weight loss nutrition program. But both the aspects should be tested and undergo clinical trial before recommendations.
- Nicholas Dale et al., Amino Acid Sensing in Hypothalamic Tanycytes via Umami Taste Receptors, Molecular Metabolism (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2017.08.015.