Until now, it was assumed that nerve cells in the brain associated with appetite regulation were generated entirely during an embryo’s development in the womb. The number of cells we brought into the world determined, for better or worse, how much we would likely be inclined to eat, for life.
Fortunately for the more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide who are overweight and more than half a billion categorized as obese, another of the old “written in stone” brain concepts has just been busted! Research published in the May issue of the Journal of Neuroscience has identified a population of stem cells capable of generating new appetite-regulating neurons even in the brains of young and adult rodents.
Scientists in England investigated the hypothalamus area of the brain, which regulates sleep and wake cycles, metabolism, appetite, thirst, hormone release and many other critical functions. They discovered that a type of brain cells called ‘tanycytes’ behave like stem cells and add new neurons to the appetite-regulating circuitry of the brain long after birth and into adulthood. This finding could eventually offer a permanent solutions for problems of over eating.
Stand by while we await news of the EPIGENETIC influences, which can kick the production of new appetite-regulating neurons into high gear, as needed! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could enjoy a little deep, dark chocolate, and the occasional crispy sweet-potato fries, without being tempted to super-size!
Fgf10-Expressing Tanycytes Add New Neurons to the Appetite/Energy-Balance Regulating Centers of the Postnatal and Adult Hypothalamus. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (14): 6170 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2437-12.2013