Scientists link second gene to appetite regulation in MC4r gene

I hope all reading this had a very merry Christmas and are looking forward to the new year!

I’ve been out of touch lately and I want to post more frequently in the new year. Hopefully with more positive news such as my last post. Hopefully things continue as they have been and 2023 will shape up to be a good year for those of us afflicted with a MC4r related disorder.

I try my best to explain MC4r in a way that’s understandable. But in all honestly I’m not a scientist or a doctor, I’m just someone who has an MC4r deficiency and tries my best to live with it. I try my best to raise awareness so people understand that for some obesity isn’t a “choice” and it isn’t because we eat badly and don’t exercise. It’s a genuine medical condition.

I get frustrated. I get annoyed. I get sad and all over something I have very little control over. I say things on this blog, because I want people to understand and I want people out there with MC4r to know they’re not alone. One things I hate is never knowing what full feels like and only knowing what “eating too much food” feels like (and yes those are two different things).

So on that note, let’s discuss the new research from Osaka Metropolitan University in Osaka, Japan. A new study has found a second gene in mediating the effects of MC4R. The gene called CREB-Regulated Transcription Coactivator 1 (CRTC1) modifies the obesity-suppressing effects of MC4R. 

Previous research into this area has shown that when this gene is deleted in mice they become obese. However, due to the fact that CRTC1 is expressed in all neurons in the brain, identifying the specific neurons responsible for suppressing obesity has remained unknown. 

But the new study out of Osaka, Japan published in The FASEB Journal, saw researchers focus on brain neurons related to the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R).

While I suggest reading the study, for a full understanding I’ll sum up some of the key points:

  • Researchers bred a strain of mice that express the gene CRTC1 normally but blocked CRTC1 within the MC4r.
  • They wanted to examine the effect of losing functional CRTC1 cells has on the development of obesity.
  • They found that mice lacking CRTC1 were sensitive to the type of diet they were fed. 
  • Mice on a standard diet showed no changes to food intake, body weight or glucose metabolism.
  • Mice on a high-fat diet ate more, gained weight and developed diabetes. 

It was concluded that CRTC1 expressed in the MC4r cells is required for metabolic adaptation to high-fat diets particularly with respect to appetite regulation. Essentially, the gene plays a vital role that stops a person from over eating high-calorie, fatty and sugary foods – good to know.

Scientists are hoping this new research will help lead to further understanding of what causes a person to overeat.

While it’s not a complete answer, it’s baby steps towards one and I’m okay with that. It gives me hope going into the new year that further answers and understanding towards MC4r and other weight disorders are on the horizon. 

I feel a lot of progress has been made in the last year. Progress that was made looking solely at MC4r, and now that they’ve identified a second gene and it’s effect on MC4r, thats big news. While I consider them small steps, because tackling a complex issue like obesity isn’t simple, the news itself is big.

I hope it makes you as hopeful as it makes me.


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