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Neurotensin Hormone Predicts Ability To Maintain Weight Loss

A graphic showing people that are different weights.
"You could speculate whether the people who put on weight again simply lack the appetite-inhibiting effect which neurotensin appears to have,” says senior author Signe Sørensen Torekov. Credit: Cathrine Sixhøj Chrone (University of Copenhagen).
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Today, in many countries, half of the population live with overweight, and the number is increasing. Many people successfully lose weight. The hard part is maintaining the weight loss.

A new study from the University of Copenhagen shows that the hormone neurotensin may help predict whether people are able to maintain weight loss.

The study, which has been published in the scientific journal Metabolism, is a so-called proof-of-concept study, which means that it is the first time that the hormone has been investigated in relation to weight loss induced by a low-calorie diet.

How the study was conducted

The first thing the researchers did was examine the hormone neurotensin in mice. More specifically, they studied the intestines and hypothalamus in the brain, which regulates appetite, and measured the level of neurotensin in response to weight loss.

We know that people who have undergone bariatric surgery to lose weight release more neurotensin when they eat. It was this insight that inspired the researchers to study the effect of neurotensin on weight loss.

“We know that other gut hormones, released in greater amounts after obesity surgery, help explain why people who have undergone obesity surgery are able to maintain weight loss. But no one had studied the role of neurotensin in connection with diet-induced weight loss,” says MD and PhD Student Joachim Holt, who is first author of the study.

Whether a drug simulating neurotensin release in the brain or intestines is interesting, explains Signe Sørensen Torekov.

“Another interesting thing about studying these appetite hormones is to learn how humans may respond to potential treatment and especially the combination of several appetite hormones to maintain weight loss,” says Signe Sørensen Torekov.

However, when researchers first discovered leptin, a key hormone in weight regulation, they learned that amounts drop during weight loss. This could indicate that increasing the amount of leptin in the body would cause people to lose weight

“But it turns out that people who live with obesity are leptin resistant, which means that they do not respond with weight lose to the hormone. We do not know whether this also applies to neurotensin. So we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Reference: Brethvad AO, Zakariassen HL, Holt J, et al. Increased meal-induced neurotensin response predicts successful maintenance of weight loss – Data from a randomized controlled trial. Metabolism. 2023;143:155534. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2023.155534

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