Target for Smoking Cessation and Weight Control Identified

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New research in mice has revealed a brain mechanism that could lead to novel treatments for smoking cessation and obesity.

In various experiments, scientists found that nicotine decreases food intake and body weight in mice by influencing the hypothalamic melanocortin system, an essential brain pathway involved in regulating energy balance and food intake.

“We found that nicotine reduced eating and body fat through receptors implicated in nicotine aversion and withdrawal rather than reward and reinforcement,” senior author Marina Picciotto, PhD, from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement.

The research is published in the June 10 issue of Science.

It is well-known that smoking suppresses appetite. Smokers are often thinner than nonsmokers and often gain weight when they quit smoking, which may keep some smokers from attempting to kick the habit.

Until now, little was known about the potential central nervous system pathways responsible for nicotine’s effects on appetite and weight. ……

By Megan Brooks
Medscape Medical News
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/744382

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