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New target receptor discovered in the fight against obesity

15 December 2016
New target receptor discovered in the fight against obesity

Researchers at King’s College London and Imperial College London have discovered the essential role that the receptor FFAR2 plays in the success of fermentable carbohydrates – found in foods such as vegetables, fruit, breads, cereals and pasta – in suppressing appetite and preventing obesity.

The team tested a high-fat diet, containing a fermentable carbohydrate, and a control diet on mice and looked at the effect on food intake of those with and without the FFAR2 receptor.

With this discovery, we can start to look at whether we can use diet or pharmaceutical means to change the cellular make-up of the gut in order to treat a host of disorders.

Dr Gavin Bewick, Senior Lecturer in Physiology

The results showed that mice fed the diet containing fermentable carbohydrate were protected against obesity. This protection was lost however, when the FFAR2 receptor was not present. Indeed, those with the receptor showed an increase of 130% in the satiety inducing gut hormone peptide YY, as well as an increased density of cells containing PYY, leading to an increased feeling of fullness.

Lead author of the study, Gavin Bewick, Senior Lecturer in Physiology said: “Obesity is currently one of the most serious global threats to human health, determined by genetic background, diet, and lifestyle. We know that supplementing your diet with non-digestible carbohydrates reduce appetite and body weight gain, but in this study we demonstrate for the first time the essential role of the FFAR2 receptor in enabling specific dietary constituents to reduce food intake and protect against obesity.

“With this discovery, we can start to look at whether we can use diet or pharmaceutical means to change the cellular make-up of the gut in order to treat a host of disorders.”

The full paper is available at: http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v13/n1/full/nrendo.2016.199.html

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