Wa Po has an article about what stress and a high fat diet can do to mice and probably what it does for us. I find it very interesting that rather than try to figure out how to deal with the stress a lot of us are feeling they instead, look to blocking the signals to the brain that causes mice (and us) to want to eat badly. This does indicate that stress is endemic to our specific society (along with high fat food access) but does not address the stress. Why do that when you can create another pill, eh?
more on flip
Way to Shrink, Grow Fat Is Found
What their proposed pill would do:
“By treating the mice the way humans are treated, which is introducing a chronic stress from which they cannot escape and introducing this abundance of food, we mimicked what happens in American society,” Zukowska said.
When the researchers examined the animals’ fat tissue, they discovered sharply elevated concentrations of a substance called neuropeptide Y (NPY), a chemical messenger produced by nerves in the body, including those in fat. They also had far higher levels of a molecular partner NPY needs to work, known as the neuropeptide Y2R receptor.
“This tells us that NPY and this receptor trigger the whole process of stress-induced obesity,” Zukowska said. She noted that other recent studies found that humans with defective NPY receptors are resistant to obesity, whereas those with excessive NPY are prone to it.
After confirming the role of NPY in fat formation in additional studies in genetically engineered mice, the researchers showed in laboratory experiments that NPY induces the growth of immature fat cells, coaxes mature fat cells to get bigger and promotes blood vessels necessary to sustain fat tissue.
The researchers also demonstrated that injecting a substance that blocks NPY prevented mice from accumulating fat — even if they were stressed and ate a high-fat diet — and could shrink fat deposits by 40 percent to 50 percent within two weeks.
“It just melts the fat. It’s incredible,” said Zukowska, noting that the technique could offer an alternative or supplement to liposuction.
On the flip side, when researchers inserted pellets containing NPY under the skin of mice and three monkeys, they were able to stimulate fat growth, suggesting that the approach could replace skin fillers and other cosmetic and reconstructive surgical techniques.
“This has tremendous potential applications for both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery,” said Stephen B. Baker, a Georgetown University professor of plastic surgery who helped conduct the research.
Don’t you feel better now? Nothing has really changed in our lives, just block those pesky peptides from parking fat on us in the wrong places. I guess if we follow the model closely we could wind up with ubangi lips and Dolly Parton boobs one and all.