Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gene helps you to maintain a balanced weight

New research reveals that those striving to obtain a healthy, balanced weight can benefit more from genes than what was previously thought. One gene in particular seems to be involved with maintaining energy balance, which is known as homeostasis. MC3R helps mice to keep balance between energy input and expenditure. But when it is dysfunctional, the animals were found to increase in weight, leading to obesity. This has important implications for research on one of mankind's biggest problems, the ever-increasing weight of the population that leads to all sorts of complications. It is however not the first time genetic factors have been implicated in diabetes.

The MC3R gene was already found in the brain, but appears to play an important role in the rest of the body as well. In mice that only had MC3R expression in the brain, instead of the whole body, a significant increase in weight was found. This was attributed to disturbances in metabolic homeostatis, the bodily functions that help maintain an energy balance. It also seems that MC3R in the central nervous system has a different function compared to expression of the gene in the periphery.

It is likely that there is an intracellular signalling pathway underlying the effects of MC3R expression. The gene codes for a receptor, that is found on the cellular surface. Activation of the receptor, with a so-called ligand, leads to activation of certain molecules in the cell, which eventually causes changes in the cellular gene expression. It is currently however unknown how MC3R leads to adaptations that helps us maintain energy balance.

Because MC3R affects energy metabolism, it is an interesting target to develop drugs for obese people. Of course, the same effect still has to be demonstrated in humans, but it is known that we possess the same gene. It is therefore likely it has a similar function in our metabolism.

A typical signalling pathway

No comments:

Post a Comment