A novel approach to treating eating disorders

Eating disorders and especially obesity are one of the most common causes of a variety of diseases in industrialised societies worldwide

A group of researchers at the University of Cologne, Germany has developed an entirely novel approach to treating eating disorders. The scientists showed that a group of nerve cells in the hypothalamus (so-called AgRP, agouti-related peptide neurons) control the release of endogenous lysophospholipids, which in turn control the excitability of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, which stimulates food intake.

In this process, the crucial step of the signalling pathway is controlled by the enzyme autotaxin (ATX), which is responsible for the production of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) in the brain as a modulator of network activity. The administration of autotaxin inhibitors can thereby significantly reduce both excessive food intake after fasting and obesity in animal models.

“The data show that people with a disturbed synaptic LPA signalling pathway are more likely to be overweight and suffer from type II diabetes. This is a strong indication of a possible therapeutic success of ATX inhibitors, which we are currently developing together with the Hans Knöll Institute in Jena for use in humans”, said the researchers.

Image credit- shutterstock

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