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Novel liver hormone cuts cravings for sweets, alcohol

Novel liver hormone cuts cravings for sweets, alcohol
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In a good news for those who cannot shun their drink and also have -'sweet tooth-', scientists have discovered for the first time a liver hormone that ...

Washington: In a good news for those who cannot shun their drink and also have "sweet tooth", scientists have discovered for the first time a liver hormone that works via brain to reduce cravings for sweets and alcohol in mammals.

The team found that a hormone produced by the liver -- fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) -- suppresses the consumption of simple sugars.
"This is the first time a hormone made in the liver has been shown to affect sugar and alcohol preference in mammals," said Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at UT Southwestern medical centre and co-senior author of the study.
The hormone is associated with environmental stress such as extreme dietary changes or cold temperature exposure. It is also produced when mammals consume carbohydrates.
Because of FGF21's unique effects, forms of the protein are being evaluated as drugs for the treatment of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and alcohol dependence. "Our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviours in humans, and that the hormone could potentially be used to treat alcoholism," Kliewer added.
The researchers found that mice with elevated levels of FGF21 showed reduced preference for sweetener and alcohol-laced water as well as a marked decrease in levels of dopamine -- a neuro-transmitter that plays a central role in reward behaviour.
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