York University Logo Considering that obesity and diabetes often go hand in hand, a suitable source to keep a check on both is more than welcome. York University researchers have unfolded a protein that may monitor both, appetite and blood sugar.

The scientists examined the metabolic influences of a protein called nesfatin-1, which exists in the brain in large proportions. They found that when rats received nesfatin-1, they apparently consumed less food, utilized more of preserved fat and became more active. Additionally, the proteins seemed to accelerate insulin secretion from the beta cells in the pancreas of rats and mice.

“[The rats] actually ate more frequently but in lesser amounts. In addition, they were more active and we found that their fatty acid oxidization was increased. In other words, the energy reserve being preferably used during nesfatin-1 treatment was fat. This suggests more fat loss, which could eventually result in body weight loss,” affirmed Suraj Unniappan, associate professor in York’s Department of Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering.

The aforesaid protein was uncovered by a research team from Japan in 2006. It was initially known to control appetite and creation of body fat when administered in the brain of rats and mice. Unniappan’s findings suggest that the protein instigates insulin secretion from the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. This analysis was conducted in the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroendocrinology, and aimed on spotting and inspecting the biological influences of gut and brain-derived appetite-regulatory and metabolic hormones in fish and mammals.

The investigators have named it the gut-brain axis. They believe that the gut seems to play a role in many neural and endocrine signals that adjust hunger, satiety and blood sugar levels. In the same way, the brain is involved in the regulation of energy balance. The team was trying to gauge the way these peptides interact with other peptides in the endocrine pathway. They believe that this process to maintain consistent levels of glucose and body mass is complicated. A deeper insight into the gut-brain axis may help in developing suitable pharmacological medications for obesity and diabetes. According to Unniappan, this research tends to comprehend the therapeutic effects of nesfatin-1 for complicated metabolic conditions.

The findings were published in the Journal of Endocrinology in March and are now reported in Endocrinology.