Scientists find a novel target for the intervention of obesity
Obesity is a fast-growing problem in many regions of the world, especially in developed countries. Obesity is a chronic, medical condition in which too much body fat has accumulated. A certain amount of body fat is necessary for various functions like energy store, while too much body fat may have a negative effect on your health.
The brain has been linked to obesity development. However, the exact mechanism of how an unhealthy diet alters the brain and thus leads to body fat accumulation remains unclear. Now, a study published September 13 in the journal Cell Reports has revealed a novel mechanism in the mouse brain that modulates obesity, providing a potential therapeutic target for the intervention of obesity.
Researchers looked at the Rap1 gene
in mice. This gene is important for brain functions such as learning and memory, but how it influences energy balance is not clear. To determine the effect of brain Rap1, researchers used two groups of mice: the experimental group in which the mice lacked the Rap1 gene, and the control group in which the mice carried a normal Rap 1 gene. Both groups were fed on a high-fat diet. To their surprise, researchers observed a significant reduction in body weight and body fat in mice without Rap 1. By contrast, the control group gained weight. When given a normal diet, mice in both groups had similar weights and body fat.
Study senior author Dr. Makoto Fukuda said that the mice without the Rap1 gene ate less and burned more fat compared to mice with that gene, and the mechanism involving brain Rap1 might be a target for the intervention of obesity.