Researchers identify the brain cells implicated in sugar consumption

Researchers at the University of Iowa have uncovered in a first of its kind study the brain cells implicated in sugar consumption and how the intake is regulated. The study appeared in Cell Metabolism.

“This is the first study that’s really identified where this hormone is acting in the brain and that has provided some very cool insights to how it’s regulating sugar intake,” said Matthew Potthoff, co-author of the study.

Based on past findings, the hormone known as FGF21 is created in the liver after sugar levels increase. It acts in the brain to inhibit sugar intake.

“FGF21 production is increased in response to macronutrient imbalance and signals to the brain to suppress sugar intake and sweet-taste preference. However, the central targets mediating these effects have been unclear,” the co-authors stated in the findings.

“We identify FGF21 target cells in the hypothalamus and reveal that FGF21 signaling to glutamatergic neurons is both necessary and sufficient to mediate FGF21-induced sugar suppression and sweet-taste preference.”

According to researchers, by probing those cells, their new findings show that the hormone FGF21 impacts neuronal activity by heightening activation and excitability in the ventromedial-hypothalamus (VMH).

Using this new data, researchers have now turned to experimental drug treatments involving FGF21 for the potential treatment of diabetes in humans.

Image courtesy of UCF
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