Your liver loves you for than you would think – and, it successfully translates its care into protective actions. Two independent teams of researchers show that a hormone derived from the liver is behind the regulation of the consumption of sugars and alcohol in mice, and that the molecule also suppresses the intake of sweets in primates.
We might have sugar cravings, but they are not uncontrollable. Our body is governed by certain mechanisms that regulate our sugar-seeking urges. However, the pathways that are at work for the monitoring of sugar appetite after ingestion are “poorly understood”, as pointed out by an author of one of the papers, Matthew Potthoff from the University of Iowa.
In attempts to shedding light on the topic, the researchers found that a liver-derived hormone, named fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), controls sweet appetite and one pertaining to alcohol.
It is the first time that a hormone derived from the liver has been found to have the power to influence sweet and alcohol preference. The team looks forward to putting the action of this hormone under the microscope.
FGF21 was found to influence behaviour through its action on the central nervous system of human.
The hormone could indeed suppress appetite to an astonishingly great extent: a single dose would almost immediately cause a monkey to lose interest in sweet water.
The second study looks into how the hormone works: FGF21 is synthesised by the liver following sugar intake. It is released into the blood and acts specifically on the hypothalamus to suppress sugar appetite.
The authors are hopeful that its use could be injected into therapeutic methods so as to inhibit the overconsumption of sugar.
On the other hand, FGF21 is not to be considered for what it is not: an author of the second paper, Steven A. Kliewer from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explains that these behaviours are affected by one’s mood and FGF21 might be not only be suppressing sugar and alcohol intake but it might be linked with depression – more research needs to be done.