In their study – Hippocampus ghrelin signaling mediates appetite through lateral hypothalamic orexin pathways– Kanoski, Hsu and colleagues find that rats with restricted feeding schedules learn to eat more, helped by the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. The insights could be valuable for helping the researchers develop new effective weight-loss therapies.
In the study, once the rats learn they have limited access to food, they are able to increase their food intake until it doubles. Over several days, meal times were restricted to a daily four-hour window, followed by 20 hours with no food. The hormone ghrelin allows the rats to reduce their feeling of fullness, so they are gradually able to eat more.
The study provides a rare insight into the way ghrelin communicates with the central nervous system to control how much food is consumed. The hippocampus, a region of the brain that controls memory and motivation, is understood to be linked to the way that anticipation of food can increase intake.
The team is now experimenting with ways to reduce ghrelin’s effect by genetically suppressing the activity of the ghrelin receptor in the hippocampus. This in turn disrupts the neurochemical signals that can facilitate the consumption of large quantities of food.
Examples of media coverage featuring this research can be found below:
- The quantity of food we eat depends on the action of a hormone: Study (Yahoo! News)
- 5 ways you’re sabotaging your weight-loss resolutions (Washington Post)
- New study discovers how 'hunger hormone' communicates with brain (CTV News (Canada))
- 5 ways you’re sabotaging your weight-loss resolutions (Miami Herald)
- La quantité de nourriture que nous consommons dépendrait de l'action d"une hormone (La Depeche)
- Pourquoi vous mangez de trop grandes quantités de nourriture (Medisite)