Liver hormone reduces preference for sweets, alcohol, via brain's reward pathway

Liver hormone reduces preference for sweets, alcohol, via brain's reward pathway

The hormone - fibroblast growth factor 21, or FGF21 - is associated with environmental stress such as extreme dietary changes or cold temperature exposure. It is also produced when mammals consume carbohydrates.

Because of FGF21's unique effects, forms of the protein are being evaluated as drugs for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers report that mice with elevated levels of FGF21 showed reduced preference for sweetener- and alcohol-laced water as well as a marked decrease in levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a central role in reward behavior.

To confirm that FGF21 acts via a brain pathway, the researchers took advantage of the fact that FGF21 requires the co-receptor β-Klotho in order to function. When FGF21 levels were increased in mice genetically unable to make β-Klotho in the central nervous system, the effect on taste preference disappeared.

Since analogs of FGF21 are currently undergoing clinical evaluation for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes, our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviors in humans.

http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/news-releases/year-2015/dec/fgf21-mangelsdorf.html

 
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