Two Enzymes Key To Calorie-burning, Brown Research Shows

A Brown-led research team has discovered a pair of universal switches in the brain that tell the body to stop eating and start burning calories. Tripped by leptin, these essential enzymes activate other chemical messengers that send metabolism-boosting signals from the brain to the body. The discovery, highlighted in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, can be used to create new treatments for obesity, one of the nation’s most pressing health problems. Metabolism is regulated by a host of tiny peptides in the hypothalamus, the small segment of the brain controlling hunger. But those peptides can’t perform their fat-fighting function without the aid of PC1 and PC2 enzymes, according to new Brown University research. Led by Eduardo Nillni, a research professor of medicine at Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital investigator, the team found that PC1 and PC2 chop up the precursor of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), a process that sets the molecules in motion. The smaller TRH peptides go on to stimulate the pituitary gland and the thyroid through a complex chemical cascade. The end result: Food intake is inhibited. The body burns more calories.

Back to news