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Brain Plays A Part In Appetite by Regulating Free Radicals

Posted Aug 04 2008 8:01pm

Research at Yale School of Medicine has shown that brain’s appetite center uses fat for fuel by involving oxygen free radicals, which suggests that antioxidants could play a part in weight control.

Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons, and are therefore usually highly reactive.  They are associated with aging and neurodegeneration, and many forms of cancer are thought to be caused by reactions between free radicals and DNA.

The lead authors, Sabrina Diano and Tamas Horvath, associate professor and professor, respectively, are in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Neurobiology.

The researchers conducted the study in mice to better understand how the brain is involved with neuronal activation in response to ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and associated with growth hormone release, appetite, learning, and memory.

They found that ghrelin-induced appetite increases are caused by burning fat in the hypothalamic mitochondria, which produces free radicals that are scavenged by a mitochondrial protein called uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2).

Diano states that “the timing of taking antioxidants may be critical for the control of appetite.  If taken on an empty stomach antioxidants may further increase appetite, however when taken with food, they may affect satiety.”

This a very interesting study, but I think more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms involved.  However, for those looking to lose some weight may want to considering taking antioxidant supplements with meals or possibly consuming antioxidant foods or drinks (such asgreen tea) with meals.

Reference: Yale School of Medicine

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