FGF21, a liver hormone can be used to control cravings for sweets and alcohol, according to a research conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa. After an experiment conducted on lab mice and monkeys, the study team found that FGF21 can be used effectively to control cravings.
The liver hormone signals the brain to avoid sweet foods. FGF21 is produced in response to high carbohydrate levels. The hormone enters the bloodstream and signals the brain to halt intake of sweet foods.
The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. When lab mice were injected with FGF21 and were given a choice between sweet food and normal diet, they chose normal diet. After FGF21 injection, the consumption of sweet food items was seven times less among lab mice, according to research team.
Study first author Lucas BonDurant informed, "We've known for a while that FGF21 can enhance insulin sensitivity. Now, there's this dimension where FGF21 can help people who might not be able to sense when they've had enough sugar, which may contribute to diabetes."
Study co-author Dr. Matthew Potthoff, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Iowa said, "This is the first liver-derived hormone we know that regulates sugar intake specifically."
In monkeys, a single dose caused them to lose interest in sweetened water almost immediately.
The research showed that FGF21 did not reduce intake of all sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose - equally, and did not affect consumption of complex carbohydrates.
Harnessing the effect, possibly by copying the the hormone's action with a drug, could help patients who are obese or suffering from Type 2 diabetes, scientists believe.
Although certain hormones were already known to regulate appetite, this is the first one that is specific to sugar consumption.
Dr Matthew Gillum from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said, "We never imagined that a circulating, liver-derived factor would exist whose function is to control sweet appetite."