There's nothing worse when you are trying to follow a weight-loss diet and hunger pangs just creep in. However, scientists have now found a way to reduce the feeling.
Working to unravel the complex wiring system that underlies this intense physiological state, investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have identified a long-sought component of this complicated neural network.
The team has found that a melanoncortin 4 receptor-regulated (MC4R) circuit serves as the neural link that inhibits and controls eating. Their discovery shows that this brain circuit not only promotes fullness in hungry mice but also removes the almost painful sensation of grating hunger, findings that could provide a promising new target for the development of weight-loss drugs.
Study's co-senior author Bradford Lowell, MD, PhD, said that their results show that the artificial activation of this particular brain circuit is pleasurable and can reduce feeding in mice, essentially resulting in the same outcome as dieting but without the chronic feeling of hunger.
Lowell said that results suggested that the therapeutic targeting of these cells may reduce both food consumption and the aversive sensations of hunger - and therefore may be an effective treatment for obesity.
The findings are published online in Nature Neuroscience.