Taste buds in the intestine?

The intestinal taste buds can be manipulated to control obesity, says new study

Signalling System
Scientists suggest that they can hook into the signalling system of the intestine so that they can control obesity

Many approaches have been studied to control obesity. One novel approach was published in the Cell Press journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism — one that targets taste sensors in the gut.

The gut "tastes" what we eat—bitter, sweet, fat, and savory— very similar the tongue and through similar signalling mechanisms. As a result they release hormones to control satiety and blood sugar levels when food reaches the gut. The sensors, or receptors, in the stomach respond to a large food intake. The malfunction of this system could be a factor in the development of obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic conditions.

Drs Sara Janssen and Inge Depoortere, of the Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, studied this system. They say that obesity and related conditions may be prevented or treated by correctly targeting the taste receptors on cells in the gut to that they release hormones that signal a feeling of fullness. This would simulate the physiological effects of a meal and fool the body into thinking that it has eaten to the full.

"The effectiveness of bariatric surgery to cause profound weight loss and a decrease in the prevalence of diabetes and other obesity-related conditions is not completely understood, but it may involve changes in the release of gut hormones," says Dr. Depoortere. "Targeting extra-oral taste receptors that affect the release of hormones that control food intake may offer a new road to mimic these effects in a non-surgical manner."

Additional studies would be required to confirm the exact gut taste receptors that may be effective drug targets for the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes.

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