The discovery of American scientists is important for the control of overeating and the prevention of obesity – the most common problem in developed countries, which increases the risks of concomitant diseases – diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
Most people will happily eat an extra meal or a delicious snack, even if they are already full. On a regular basis, such eating behavior leads to metabolic syndrome and gradually provokes overweight and obesity.
Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine set out to find out how the brain regulates the desire to eat, caused by hunger or other factors. Scientists first determined that both types of eating behavior are regulated via serotonin-producing neurons in the midbrain, but further observations have identified a different pathway for each.
It turned out that each type of diet regulates its own independent brain circuit, which does not affect the other type of eating behavior. One of them, associated with hunger, travels to the hypothalamus, and the second, associated with eating without hunger, spread to another area in the midbrain.
Researchers have identified two serotonin receptors and two ion channels through which feeding behavior can be regulated. Exposure to them with the help of special molecules will help control overeating.
The team now intends to test the most promising candidate molecules in animal models to validate the potential of the therapy in humans.