Mystery of obesity cause discovered
As more people in Korea adopt Western eating
habits, the waistlines of the population is slowly expanding.
There is no groundbreaking solution to obesity, other than eating right and exercising regularly.
But a group of local scientists has uncovered a medical reason for obesity that could change
the way doctors treat it. Sohn Jung-in has more.
Obesity,… which greatly raises the risk of other health problems,… affects over
21 percent of the world population. Over-eating and a lack of exercise are the
main causes, but local researchers say they’ve uncovered another factor.
A joint group of experts from Asan Medical Center and Gachon University of Medicine and
Science discovered that cilium, a hair-like structure on brain nerve cells, holds the
key to treating obesity. They found that cilia, which act as antennae
for the cells, fail to perceive the messages the body sends when their lengths are reduced.
So when the stomach is full, the brain does not receive the message to stop eating.
When neuronal cilia lengths were selectively reduced, the food intake of a mouse surged
by 30 percent while its energy consumption fell by more than 20 percent.
This phenomenon of inverse proportion between cilia length and obesity was seen in every
mouse tested. Cilia in normal mice measured an average of
5-point-five micrometers long, while those in obese mice measured 3-point-three micrometers.
The team also discovered that once obesity began to set in, cilia became subsequently
short. Therefore, experts anticipate they could find
a medical treatment to curing obesity once they find a way to grow the length of cilia. “We can now focus on ways to develop a medication
that helps cilia in nerve cells maintain their length, so that it perceives the state of
satiety. We hope this will eventually help prevent and cure obesity.” The findings were featured in the world-renowned
scientific journals, “The Journal of Clinical Investigation” and in “Nature Reviews.”
Sohn Jung-in, Arirang News.