Saturday, June 11, 2011
Nicotine treatment 'could control obesity'
Scientists have identified a group of neurons in the brain responsible for smokers' lack of appetite. In an article in the journal Science, Yale University researchers describe experiments on mice which found nicotine activates neurons to send signals the body has had enough to eat. However they are not the same neurons which trigger a craving for tobacco. As a result, the researchers say nicotine-based treatments could help control obesity. A research team from Yale University School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston performed a combination of molecular, pharmacological, behavioural and genetic experiments on mice. They found that nicotine influences a collection of central nervous system circuits, known as the body's hypothalamic melanocortin system, by activating certain receptors. These receptors, in turn, increase the activity of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons, known for their effects on obesity in humans and animals