Brain Enzyme May Regulate Appetite For Sugar Interview with:
Dr James Gardiner

Reader in Molecular Physiology
Imperial College Hammersmith Campus
London 0NN

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It is well known that glucose is a preferred food and is consumed in preference to other nutrients. Food intake is controlled by the brain in part this it is regulated by part of the brain called the hypothalamus.   Glucokinase is an important component of glucose sensing and is expressed in the hypothalamus and specifically in the arcuate nucleus. A hypothalamic mechanism regulating glucose intake has not previously been identified.

Using a rodent model we demonstrated that increasing glucokinase activity in the arcuate nucleus increased food intake and body weight. If glucose was available as separately then glucose intake is increased but not weight. Decreasing glucokinase activity in the arcuate nucleus had the opposite effect, reducing glucose intake when it was available.   Our results suggest that glucokinase controls glucose appetite and hence the amount of glucose consumed. This is the first time a mechanism controlling the intake of a specific nutrient has been described.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: It is possible that the levels of glucokinase vary within the population. Some people may have a greater appetite for glucose and tend to gain weight. It is possible that for some people eating a glucose rich food for example pasta, rice potatoes, at the start of a meal may reduce subsequent food intake and therefore lead to weight loss.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It may be possible to develop drugs to treat obesity which target this system. Alternatively it may be possible that a change in diet may be beneficial for some people to make it easier to lose weight.

Glucokinase activity in the arcuate nucleus regulates glucose intake

Syed Hussain1, Errol Richardson1, Yue Ma1, Christopher Holton1, Ivan De Backer1, Niki Buckley1, Waljit Dhillo1, Gavin Bewick1, Shuai Zhang2, David Carling2, Steve Bloom1 and James Gardiner1
J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI77172.

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Last Updated on June 4, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD