Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a hormone, fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), in liver that reduce sweet and alcohol cravings in mammals. The study conducted on monkeys and mice helped scientists to know that the FGF21 hormone works with brain and directs to avoid seeking sweet foods. The study published in the Journal Cell Metabolism shows the functioning of the hormone that is produced in response to high carbohydrate levels and enters the bloodstream to signal to the brain to suppress sugar cravings.
During the research period, researchers injected mice with FGF21 hormone and were offered both normal diet and sugar-enriched diet. Surprisingly, researchers found that mice consumed seven times less sugar after receiving the hormone. They found that the mice with higher levels of FGF21 hormone exhibited lessened preference for sweetened water and alcohol-laced water. Doctor Matthew Potthoff, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Iowa, said for the first time they have been able to known about a liver-derived hormone that regulates sugar intake specifically. Lucas BonDurant, study co-author, said that the hormone could help those people who are unable to sense the amount of sugar they take causing diabetes.
Dr. Steven Kliewer, senior study-author, said “Our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviors in humans, and that the hormone could potentially be used to treat alcoholism”. Kliewer said that about dozens of years ago, it was truly unexpected to believe that the hormone in liver could help regulate sugar intake in the body. But, the new study shows deeper connection between FGF21 and the nervous system. Researchers believe there is need to conduct more studies to assess the effects of FGF21 hormone on sweet and alcohol preference and other reward behavior in humans. These findings could prove beneficial for obese people as regulating the hormone level would help regulate the person’s desire to consume alcohol or sugar.