Researchers have found that the activity of a protein called PPARγ in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons was crucial in regulating metabolic response to high fat diet, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reveals.
Sabrina Diano and colleagues at Yale University School of Medicine found that mice lacking PPARγ specifically in POMC neurons gained less weight, were more active, and had improved glucose metabolism when fed a high-fat diet. Moreover, animals without PPARγ in POMC neurons did not gain weight when given PPARγ activators. The results of this study indicate that PPARγ expression in POMC neurons regulates whole-body energy balance. The findings also shed light on why PPARγ activators, which are used clinically to increase insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, have a side effect of promoting weight gain.