Want to lose weight? Change free radicals in your brain

July 31st, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 31 (IANS) The brain’s appetite centre uses free radicals - molecules associated with ageing and neuro-degeneration - to tell you if you are hungry. So if you interfere with the free radicals, you can lose weight, says a new study. Yale University professor Tamas Horvath and assistant professor Sabrina Diano, who co-authored the study, said: “Minute-by-minute control of appetite is regulated by free radicals, implying that if you interfere with free radicals, you may affect eating and satiety.”

The results also imply, added Horvath, “that each time a feeling of fullness or satiety is reached during a meal, you may be chipping away some time from your maximum lifespan as the most free radicals are produced when satiety-promoting brain cells are active”.

Diano, Horvath and colleagues conducted the study in mice to better understand how the brain mediates neuronal activation in response to ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and previously associated with growth hormone release, appetite, learning and memory.

They found that ghrelin-induced increase in appetite is driven by burning fat in hypothalamic mitochondria, which produces free radicals that are scavenged by a mitochondrial protein called uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2)

“The timing of taking antioxidants may be critical for the control of appetite,” said Diano. “If taken on an empty stomach antioxidants may further increase appetite. However when taken with food, they may affect satiety.

“Further studies are needed to determine whether any regimen of orally taken antioxidants could be used to control appetite in animals and humans,” she said.

The findings have been reported in the journal Nature.

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