Brain Protein May Curb Obesity

A protein called TLQP-21 may boost metabolism and limit obesity, at least in rats, a new study shows.

The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers included Alessandro Bartolomucci, PhD. He works in Rome at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council).

Bartolomucci and colleagues spotted the TLQP-21 protein in rats’ brains. They isolated TLQP-21 for lab tests on male rats.

First, the rats ate normal chow for four days. Then they went on a high-fat diet laced with lard.

The rats also got a steady stream of a solution with or without TLQP-21 directly into their brains around the clock for two weeks.

The rats that received TLQP-21 gained less weight and burned more calories at rest on the high-fat diet, compared with those that didn’t get TLQP-21.

Metabolism increases were measured by taking the rats’ rectal temperature. The rats in the TLQP-21 group showed a rise in rectal temperature.

No people were studied. So it’s not known yet if TLQP-21 behaves the same way in people, or what its long-term effects are, even in rats.

TLQP-21 might be part of the complex mix of chemicals involved in obesity.

While scientists sort out the details, people who are overweight and who want to lose weight should talk to their doctors for pointers on safe, effective weight loss.

By Miranda Hitti

SOURCES: Bartolomucci, A. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Sept. 26, 2006; vol 103: pp 14584-14589. News release, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.