A protein that is widely distributed in mouse tissue has been identified as an important regulator of energy metabolism and body weight. The findings reported in this week’s Nature Communications offer a potential target for the treatment of obesity-related diseases.
Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions in the Western world, resulting from an excess of energy intake over energy expenditure. Previous studies in rodents have demonstrated the involvement of specialised proteins known as apolipoproteins in regulating cell signalling pathways that are important for the control of appetite. Although the effects of an apolipoprotein called clusterin - which has been implicated in many biological processes - on appetite have not been determined, it is highly expressed in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain, which controls appetite. Min-Seon Kim and colleagues find that injecting clusterin into the hypothalamus of mice facilitates the effects of the leptin, a hormone that regulates energy intake and expenditure, resulting in reduced food intake and weight loss.
The authors also identify other key components that are crucial for clusterin-leptin signalling and although these studies were carried out in mice, they hope that these findings will lead to novel clinical therapeutic approaches for individuals where current strategies to control obesity are unsuccessful.