Scientists have identified a protein in the brain of rats that they say may help curb obesity though they haven't yet tested how the protein behaves in human beings.
Alessandro Bartolomucci and colleagues at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council) in Rome spotted the TLQP-21 protein in the brain of male rats and isolated it for lab tests, reported the online edition of the health magazine WebMD.
First, the rats ate normal chow for four days. They were then made to go on a high-fat diet laced with lard. The rats also got a steady stream of a solution with or without TLQP-21 directly into their brains round the clock for two weeks.
The rats that received TLQP-21 gained less weight and burned more calories compared with those that were not administered the protein.
Metabolism increases were measured by taking the rats' rectal temperature. The rats in the TLQP-21 group showed a rise in rectal temperature.
The researchers said TLQP-21 may boost metabolism and limit obesity, at least in rats. However, they do not know what its long-term effects could be and whether the protein behaves in a similar manner in humans.