Friday, July 22, 2005

Hormone That Controls Appetite Linked To Memory And Learning

Researchers from Dundee University have found a link between the hormone leptin, thought to control appetite, and the brain's memory and learning process.

The Scottish scientists involved in the research note that there is already much evidence to show how the hormone leptin signals information regarding the status of fat stores to specific receptors located in the hypothalamus region of the brain. According to them, this controls our desire to eat, and therefore, our weight.

But leptin and its receptor are widely expressed in many brain regions outside the hypothalamus and evidence is accumulating that it has other neuronal functions that are unrelated to its effects on energy homeostasis.

This includes research showing that leptin has a significant influence on learning and memory processes in the hippocampus region.

Jenni Harvey, one of the Dundee researchers, told the BBC: "Leptin enhances the level of communication between brain cells in the hippocampus in a process known as long-term potentiation (LTP). Defects in either leptin or genes that regulate leptin result in obesity and also cause impairments in LTP."

Previous studies have found that people who are obese throughout life are more likely to lose brain tissue, and scientists have already predicted that the current obesity epidemic will give rise to a major increase in dementia.

Earlier this year California based Kaiser Permanente, a health care delivery organization, cautioned that developed countries may face an explosion in age-related dementia in the next 20 years if they fail to contain the present obesity crisis.

In a longitudinal population-based study conducted over a 27-year period and published in May 2005 in the online version of the British Medical Journal, researchers concluded that being overweight or obese in middle age considerably increases risk of dementia in later life.

According to the May 2005 research, the initial onset of dementia may also affect appetite and cause weight loss.

In my humble opinion, I feel a whole lot better knowing I have 4 master molecules going to work inside my body everyday. They're my "little generals" organizing and instructing my cells and hormones to do what they were intended to do.


Hunger hormone also involved in memory and learning
Overweight countries face dementia epidemic
Obesity in middle age and future risk of dementia: a 27 year longitudinal population based study
BBC - Hunger hormone linked to memory


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