In the research, published in the May Issue of Nature Neuroscience, Dr David Spanswick and his research team in the University of Warwick's Department of Biological Sciences, looked at a part of the brain called the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus which was known to deal with hunger and satiety signals but how it achieves this is poorly understood. The University of Warwick team have identified very specific neurons that act as feeding "pacemakers".
This specific group of neurons- which they have dubbed the "ARC pacemaker" produce regular bursts of electrical activity. However these cells integrate and process a wide variety of signals indicating the energy needs of the body signals most often transmitted by the use of chemical messengers such as hormones like ghrelin, released from the gut and leptin from fat cells.
The combination of these signals and their integration by the ARC pacemaker is such a finely balanced mechanism that one small error or mutation leading to any inappropriate communication in these pathways could produce a significant untoward affect on human eating or feeding patterns.
The high number of potential ways that this delicately balanced hunger pacemaker can go wrong could explain why many overweight people are unable to address their weight problems by a combinati
Contact: Dr. David Spanswick
University of Warwick