Obesity linked to specific hormone
A new study in Canada has identified a hormone that restricts brown adipose tissue--so-called "brown fat"-- (brown fat), and they believe that that can increase the likelihood that a person will become obese.
Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, tested how peripheral serotonin—the kind of serotonin that circulates in the blood, not the brain—limits the amount of brown fat activity. The study, published in Nature Medicine, is the first to show that blocking this type of serotonin makes brown fat more active in burning glucose, resulting in less weight gain.
Most serotonin is produced by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase (Tph1). When the research team genetically modified mice to create animals without Tph1 or when they blocked the hormone, the mice were able to eat a high-fat diet and still avoid becoming obese because of their improved ability to produce more brown fat. They were also less likely to become pre-diabetic, or develop fatty liver disease.
One researcher noted the high-fat Western diet may be increasing the serotonin levels in our blood, making brown fat less effective in burning energy. The researchers are now focusing on developing an enzyme blocker to target Tph1.