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Replacing the benefits of exercise with pills? Molecule that can reduce appetite identified

Published:22 Jun 2022 01:38 GMT

Scientists have identified a molecule in the blood of mice that is produced during physical exercise, can effectively reduce food intake and prevent obesity, according to a recent statement from the Baylor College of Medicine (Texas, USA), which participated in the finding along with Stanford University (California) and other institutions.

Thus, the experts estimate that in the future, drugs with the molecule discovered could replace exercise itself.

The researchers make it clear that not all people need the possible substitute, but elderly people with osteoporosis, heart disease or other health problems, who are unable to maintain sufficient physical activity, do. As such, these patient groups could benefit from the ‘exercise pill’ to slow the progression of their condition.

“Regular exercise has been shown to help weight loss, regulate appetite and improve metabolic profile, especially for overweight and obese individuals,” said Professor Yong Xu, co-author of the study. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise promotes these benefits, then we will be closer to helping many people improve their health,” he added.

The key molecule that the mice generate on the treadmill is a modified amino acid, called Lac-Phe. The specialists analyzed its presence in the blood plasma of rodents fed different diets. In those fed a high-fat diet, a high dose of Lac-Phe reduced food intake by about 50% compared to control mice over a 12-hour period without affecting movement or energy expenditure.

When administered to mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced cumulative food intake and animal weight (due to loss of body fat), and improved glucose tolerance.

The authors also identified an enzyme, called CNDP2, that is involved in Lac-Phe production and showed that mice lacking this enzyme did not lose as much weight as a control group, while both performed the same exercise plan.

In addition, significant elevations in Lac-Phe levels after physical activity were also recorded in the plasma of racehorses and humans. Data from a human cohort showed that speed exercise induced the most dramatic increase in the key amino acid in plasma, followed by endurance training. “This suggests that Lac-Phe is an ancient system that is conserved and regulates feeding, and is associated with physical activity in many animal species,” summarized research co-author Jonathan Long.

The team’s scientific paper on this important metabolite and its role in health was published on June 15 in the journal Nature.


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