Glial cells can control appetite and feeding behavior, research shows.
Neuroscientist from MIT discovered this after activating these cells on mice. They observed that activating this cells cause overeating, while deactivating this caused suppressed mice appetite.
Guoping Feng, one of the researchers, explained that glial cells have been vital for neurodegenerative disorders. However, this doesn't erase the fact that it helps in neuronal function and brain disorders.
Science Daily reported that their findings can be a means in developing drugs for food disorders. They believe that their study proves that there's more to glial cells than neuron support.
Naiyan Chen, another researcher, explained that she noticed that the hypothalamus has an active glial cell. Hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls not just the appetite but also our energy, temperature and sleeping patterns.
She explained that she was curious of the function of this cells in the hypothalamus. She said that she was curious about the cells because they have shown neuron influence on other parts of the brain, Today USA reported.
The researchers studied astrocytes, a glial cell, using a new technique from University of North Carolina. They used this technique to produce a specific cell that can bind a surface receptor called CNO, which was derived from clozapine.
Chen explained that the mice ate a lot after activating its receptors. She stressed that despite the appetite increase, the mice did not gain weight.
She believes that this solidifies the possibility that glial cells are the ones moderating our energy expenditure. She also said that the cells might have the ability to moderate energy homeostasis functions.
However, the researchers admitted that they still have to find out how astrocytes really affects the neurons. They're goal now is to create a research tool that will effectively show astrocytes and neuron interactions.
Feng admitted that they have limited knowledge on astrocytes contribute to appetite modulation. He hopes to know more about glial cells and how they could affect these disorders.