A step closer to medicine that treats obesity

A peptide and hormone that reduces the urge to eat when administered to a specific area of the brain could be the target for developing medications to treat obesity and binge eating disorder, says a research.

When pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP), a peptide and hormone produced by neurons, was administered in a specific area of the brain called the “central amygdala”, it reduced the intake of food and led to weight loss, the researchers said.

“The PACAP system may hypothetically be the target of medications to treat not only obesity but also binge-eating, a disease characterized by excessive, uncontrollable consumption of food within brief periods of time,” said co-author Pietro Cottone, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

According to the researchers, PACAP is known for its food intake and body weight effects in the hypothalamus (the area of the brain known for controlling appetite).

However, this is the first report of PACAP effects in the amygdala, a region of the brain outside the hypothalamus, involved in fear and emotional component of eating.

The study was conducted on male rats.

“We found that amygdalar PACAP reduces the amount of food eaten within meals, but not how many meals are consumed,” said Valentina Sabino, assistant professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM.

“In addition, we found that PACAP reduced the rate of intake of food. This means that, following administration of PACAP, models were eating more slowly,” Sabino added.

The study appeared in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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