THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE IN A PILL? SCIENCE IS CLOSER TO THAT GOAL

To lose weight without having to work out, is not the dream? What about if we told you that it may happen very soon? Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine recently discovered a chemical that is created in the circulation when we exercise. Lac-phe is the name of the chemical, and it has been shown in mouse models to lower food intake and obesity.

The findings of this study which were recently published in the Nature journal are crucial because it gives us a better understanding of the underlying physiological processes that happen during a workout, and the intricate relationship between exercise and hunger. We have known that exercise can accelerate our metabolism, regulate appetite and help us lose weight, but the researchers of this study are trying to figure out why exercise is so good, especially at the molecular level. If the underlying physiological process can be fully understood, then some age groups, such as seniors who are unable to exercise due to osteoporosis, heart disease, or diabetes, may benefit. Other conditions can have medication made for them that can substitute exercise. The study was conducted by doing a comprehensive analysis of blood plasma compounds from mice following intense treadmill running and a molecule – which is a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe was found in them.

In mice with diet-induced obesity (fed a high-fat diet), a high dose of Lac-Phe suppressed food intake by about 50% compared to control mice over a period of 12 hours without affecting their movement or energy expenditure. When administered to the mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced cumulative food intake and body weight (owing to loss of body fat) and improved glucose tolerance.

The study also identified an enzyme called CNDP2 which is responsible for the production of Lac-Phe and found that mice lacking this enzyme lost less weight than the control group, despite being on the same diet.

The researchers in this study are now seeking to figure out how Lac-Phe transmits its effects throughout the body, including the brain. Once that’s found the goal of the researchers is to learn to “modulate this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions.”

The researchers also discovered an enzyme called CNDP2, which is involved in the creation of Lac-Phe, and demonstrated that mice lacking this enzyme lost less weight on an exercise regime as a control group on the same exercise plan.

Surprisingly, the researchers discovered significant increases in plasma Lac-Phe levels in racehorses and people following physical activity. Sprint activity caused the greatest increase in plasma Lac-Phe, followed by resistance training, and finally endurance training, according to data from a human exercise cohort.

“This shows that Lac-Phe is an ancient and preserved system in many animal species that regulates food and is linked to physical activity,” Long said. “One of our next goals is to learn more about how Lac-Phe transmits its effects across the body, including the brain,” Xu added. “Our goal is to learn to modulate this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions.”

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