Monday, June 8, 2009

Getting Obese Mice Moving and Curing Their Diabetes

“Mice lacking the fat hormone leptin or the ability to respond to it become morbidly obese and severely diabetic - not to mention downright sluggish. Now, a new study in the June Cell Metabolism shows that blood sugar control in those animals can be completely restored by returning leptin sensitivity to a single class of neurons in the brain, which account for only a small fraction of those that normally carry the hormone receptors. ‘Just the receptors in this little group of neurons are sufficient to do the job,’ said Christian Bjorbaek of Harvard Medical School. What's more, animals with leptin receptors only in the so-called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons spontaneously increase their physical activity levels despite the fact that they remain profoundly obese. While understanding exactly how the POMC neurons act on other organs remains a future challenge, the discovery suggests that drugs designed to tap into the pathway - turning up or down the dial, so to speak - might have benefit for those with severe diabetes and obesity, according to the researchers. Such drugs might even encourage obese individuals to get moving. ‘This gives us the opportunity to search for drugs that might induce the desire or will to voluntarily exercise,’ Bjorbaek said.”

No comments: