Baku, December 26, AZERTAC
A cure for sugar cravings is a major step nearer after scientists identified a hormone which suppresses a "sweet tooth".
Researchers say their findings, published online in the journal Cell Metabolism, could improve the diet and help patients who are diabetic or obese.
While sugar cravings are common, particularly at this time of year, the physiological mechanisms that trigger our "sweet tooth" were not well defined until now.
But the new study in mice shows that a hormone produced by the liver, fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), suppresses the consumption of simple sugars.
The researchers say that FGF21 is produced in the liver in response to high carbohydrate levels. The hormone then enters the bloodstream, where it sends a signal to the brain to suppress the preference for sweets.
The study's co-senior author Doctor Matthew Potthoff, assistant professor of pharmacology in the University of Iowa in the US, said: "This is the first liver-derived hormone we know that regulates sugar intake specifically."
Previous research explains how certain hormones affect appetite; however, these hormones don't regulate any specific macronutrient - carbohydrate, protein, fat - and are produced by organs other than the liver.