In a new study, researchers found that by activating a certain type of immune cell in the brain could cause obesity in mice. It may indicate that brain inflammation is a consequence of obesity and not a cause.
This study offers promising results for new therapies that fight obesity.
For some time now, researchers are building evidence that links brain inflammation to obesity. Consistent overeating could cause damage to the cells, not just in the body, but also in the brain.
The damage is the result of immune system reaction that causes several side effects. The side effects may help in reducing the problems, but they could also make things worse.
The hypothalamus controls eating and activity. When there’s an inflammation of the brain, it could cause leptin resistance. As a result, it can interfere with body weight regulation.
Leptin is a kind of hormone released by fat cells. Its role is to provide the brain with information on how much energy stored as body fat.
Neurons found in the hypothalamus will use the information to regulate eating and body weight activities. It does so to maintain body fat in a desirable range.
But in the case of obesity, those neurons tend to be insensitive to leptin, resulting in its inability to decrease hunger and improve energy expenditure.
Obese People Can’t Lose Weight Because…
As a result, the body can’t lose extra weight. It’s one of the reasons obese people failed to lose weight because of the inflammation in the part of the brain.
Thus, brain inflammation could play a vital role in obesity.
However, scientists are also looking into the fact that brain inflammation could be one of the causes of obesity. The onset of brain inflammation could co-occur with the changes in the body and brain because of overeating and weight gain.
Then again, it’s not yet clear whether or not brain inflammation could cause obesity development. But the study showed that activating a type of brain immune cell, known as microglia, can start a cascade of events that could lead to obesity.
In the study, the researchers altered the microglial activity in the hypothalamus so they could control the body weight of the mice. The researchers started to test the effects of reducing the microglial or its level of activity. They learned that both ways could cut weight gain in the mice.
When they increased microglial activity, they found that it could cause obesity, even if the mice were eating a regular diet.
One of the drugs used in the study is also tested in human cancer trials.
With this development, it shows how brain inflammation could cause obesity. It could prompt ideas about how we could avoid it.