New Brain Signal Discovered for the Regulation of Body Weight

Scientists of the Institute of Diabetes and Obesity at Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the DZD, in collaboration with colleagues at the Charité - Universitätmedizin Berlin, have discovered that a receptor of as yet unknown function is involved in the regulation of body weight. As the research group led by Dr. Timo Müller could now show for the first time, the molecule GPR83 plays a crucial role in the regulation of energy balance. The findings showed that mice with a loss of function of this receptor are protected from obesity and diabetes even after being fed a high-fat diet. The results were published in the current issue of the renowned journal ‘Nature Communications’ and make an important contribution to the study of signaling networks that are involved in the control of body fat and blood sugar.

The regulation of body weight is a complex process in which organs such as the digestive tract and adipose (fatty) tissue constantly transmit information about the current energy status to the brain. The brain reacts to these signals with the activation or inhibition of neuronal signaling mechanisms which acutely regulate hunger and satiety. One of these signals is the hormone ghrelin, which is secreted in the stomach and travels via the bloodstream to the brain where it activates control circuits that regulate food intake. As the scientists led by Professor Matthias Tschöp (Helmholtz Zentrum München) and Dr. Heike Biebermann (Charité Berlin) have now discovered, GPR83 influences the energy metabolism both through direct interaction with the Ghrelin signaling pathway as well as through yet unknown signaling mechanisms.
Further studies shall now seek to identify specific binding partners of GPR83. The researchers led by Timo Müller hope to develop new strategies for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. “If the pharmacological inhibition of GPR83 turns out to be a safe and specific approach, this may point to new strategies to combat metabolic diseases,” said Matthias Tschöp, director of the Institute of Diabetes and Obesity.

Original publication:
Müller, T.D et al.(2013) The orphan receptor Gpr83 regulates systemic energy metabolism via ghrelin-dependent and ghrelin-independent mechanisms; Nature Communications 4, doi:10.1038/ncomms2968

Link to publication