A study published online in Nature Neuroscience reports a strain of mice that are lean and resistant to obesity. By doing so, the study also offers valuable clues to the neuronal circuit critical to control food intake and body weight, and suggests a possible target for the development of drugs to combat obesity.
Bradford Lowell and colleagues at Harvard Medical School created transgenic mice that specifically lacked the ability to release the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in a subset of neurons in the hypothalamus ? the area of the brain important for controlling processes such as hunger, thirst and body temperature. These animals did not become obese despite being put on a high-fat diet, and were also resistant to the effects of an appetite stimulating hormone.
As well as showing that normal energy balance requires inhibitory neurotransmission in the hypothalamus, this study also suggests a possible target for developing drugs for obesity.
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