Scientists at UT Southwestern may have found an approach of safely emulating the weight-loss benefits of a particular plant compound that, amidst its hazardous side effects, hold crucial answers to developing obesity treatments.
The term “Celastrol,” according to a EurekAlert! report, is derived from a white-flowered plant’s root extract in China. It has driven increased attention in the past years following studies found it can both stop and reverse obesity in mice.
Nonetheless, since celastrol can lead to reactions like high blood pressure and lethargy in mouse models, study authors have sought to understand how the compound works and use that knowledge to develop safe weight-loss treatments for humans.
More so, UT Southwestern may have solved part of the puzzle in new research, showing that celastrol needs a specific protein in a neuron type that affects metabolism.
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Researchers may have found an approach of safely emulating the weight-loss benefits of a particular plant compound that, amidst its hazardous side effects, hold crucial answers to developing obesity treatments.
Close to Developing Safe and Effective Treatments for Obesity
In their study published in JCI Insight, the researchers found they can simulate a so-called “fed” signal to brains of mice by deleting the protein from the neurons, resulting in mice “losing seven percent of their body weight,” in two weeks in spite of being fed a high-fat diet.
The key to such findings is that mice did not seem to endure similar ailments documented in past research in which celastrol was administered.
According to Kevin Williams, PhD, the study author and an investigator at UT Southwestern’s Center for Hypothalmic Research, this new insight into how celastrol is working on the cellular level is opening more possibilities for targeting pathways that can enhance the metabolism minus the adverse health effect.
He added, they have not uncovered all the cell populations that affect weight loss, although each of these findings is bringing the researchers closer to developing effective, safe treatments for obesity.
This research is the most recent research from Dr. Williams that may help enhance glucose metabolism in the future, in patients suffering from obesity-driven conditions like diabetes.
Furthermore, this new study focused on a class of cells in the brain known as POMC neurons, which are linked to reduced appetite, lower blood sugar levels, and higher energy burning when stimulated.