A new study has found that insulin when administered intranasally can significantly decrease food intake in men but not women. However, it was found to boost memory functions in women but not men.
According to researchers at the University of Lubeck in Germany, the findings of their study signify that gender is a decisive factor in brain insulin signaling that affects both food intake and cognitive functions.
Lead author of the study Dr.Christian Benedict said, “The study further suggests that intranasal insulin may be helpful in the treatment of cognitive and metabolic disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and obesity that are assumed to derive at least in part from malfunctions of central nervous insulin signaling.”
The researchers conducted the study to find of the effects of a single does of intranasal insulin on the functions of the central nervous system such as energy metabolism and memory processing and to find out any gender differences. In fact, it was based on the findings of previous studies which showed that insulin played a key role in the regulation of these functions.
According to Dr. Benedict, they conducted the study to assess the effects of a single dose of intranasal insulin on these functions and to find out any gender differences.
For the study, 14 men and 18 women were administered regular human insulin intranasally before performing a battery of cognitive tests. Subsequently, study subjects took part in a breakfast buffet and their food intake was measured.
The nasal spray device used in this study atomizes the insulin solution before inhalation so that it penetrates the nasal cavities more effectively.
The pancreatic hormone insulin plays a pivotal role in the regulation of central nervous functions such as the neuroendocrine control of energy metabolism and memory processing.
Insulin reaches the brain via a saturable transport system, and binds to receptors primarily located in cerebral cortex, olfactory bulb, hippocampus, cerebellum, and hypothalamus.
The findings showed that men are more sensitive to the central anorexigenic actions of insulin whereas women benefit to a greater extent from its acute cognitive effects.
“Gender differences will have to be considered in the possible future development of intranasal insulin therapeutics,” said Dr. Benedict.