A team primarily composed of scientists from Texas A&M AgriLife Research has made a groundbreaking discovery that could lead to a novel treatment for obesity and conditions associated with obesity.
Details of the discovery can be found in the study „Nutrient-sensing Growth Hormon Secretagogue Receptor in Macrophage Programming and Meta-Inflammation,“ published in the January issue of Molecular Metabolism.
Yuxiang Sun, Ph.D., who led the study, stated, „Chronic inflammation, often associated with obesity, is a primary reason why overweight individuals frequently suffer from many other chronic diseases.“
Dr. Sun, who served as lead researcher for the study, was joined by several researchers from the Department of Nutrition. Contributions to the study were also made by other institutions within the Texas A&M University System.
The study was competitively funded by the National Institutes of Health and was also supported by the IHA — the world’s first research institute that combines precision nutrition, responsive agriculture, and behavioral research to reduce nutrition-related chronic diseases.
About the study
The study focused on the role of a molecule involved in how our body responds to hunger: the growth hormone secretagogue receptor GHSR, which mediates ghrelin’s effect, known as the „hunger hormone.“ Studies have shown that ghrelin promotes food intake and increases fat content.
„Interestingly, we found in earlier studies that complete removal of GHSR protects against diet-induced inflammation and insulin resistance in adipose and livers without affecting food intake,“ said Sun. „This was very puzzling as the expression of GHSR in fat and liver cells is very low.“
The Relationship between Obesity and the Immune System
Sun and her team made the novel observation that GHSR activity in macrophages, an important immune cell type in tissues, dramatically increases under the condition of obesity. The study examined whether the effect of ghrelin in adipose and liver on the infiltration of GHSR-expressing macrophages in these tissues in obesity.