The activation of a group of neurons in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus boosts food intake, but what controls this activation has been unclear. Researchers have now identified a receptor in these neurons that is targeted by a protein called FoxO1 to promote feeding.
The FoxO1 protein is involved in regulating the signalling of key hormones that suppress appetite. Domenico Accili at Columbia University in New York and his team deleted FoxO1 from mouse hypothalamic neurons and found that the animals were leaner, ate less and had improved glucose and fat metabolism compared with normal mice. The researchers pinpointed the receptor Gpr17 as mediating the effects of FoxO1.
Targeting this pathway could be a strategy for anti-obesity drugs, the authors say.