Photo: Rostislav Sedlacek

Researchers identify a new regulator of satiety signals

30 May 2022

A study led by Hong Kong Baptist University has discovered the role of a proteolytic enzyme in regulating satiety signals in the brain.

Dr Xavier Wong Hoi Leong and Professor Bian Zhaoxiang of the School of Chinese Medicine at Baptist University of Hong Kong have identified a proteolytic enzyme called MT1-MMP that can control weight gain by intervening the signalling mechanism of GDF15, a hormone that sends out satiety signals.

Wong and Bian conducted tests on obese mice and found that those with fewer MT1-MMP enzyme ate ten per cent less food, gained 50% less weight and exhibited reduced glucose and plasma insulin levels compared to the control group.

The team also noticed that obese mice displayed an increased activity of MT1-MMP in brain regions involved in appetite and weight regulation, suggesting that an increase in this enzyme could be a risk factor causing sustained weight gain.

“Our research has established the role played by MT1-MMP in regulating satiety and has provided preliminary indications that the enzyme is a promising target for the treatment of obesity. Pharmacological inhibition of the enzyme could be a viable strategy for developing effective pharmacotherapy for the treatment of obesity,” said Wong.

Their findings have been published in Nature Metabolism.