The ghrelin hormone not only stimulates the brain giving rise to an increase in appetite, but also favours the accumulation of lipids in visceral fatty tissue, located in the abdominal zone and considered to be the most harmful. This is the conclusion of research undertaken at Metabolic Research Laboratory of the University Hospital of Navarra, published recently in the International Journal of Obesity.
Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach and the function of which is to tell the brain that the body has to be fed. Thus, the level of this secretion increases before eating and decreases after. It is known to be important in the development of obesity, given that, on stimulating the appetite, it favours an increase in body weight, explained Ms Amaia Rodríguez Murueta-Goyena, doctor in biology and main researcher of the study.
However, researchers at the University Hospital of Navarra have discovered that, besides stimulating the hypothalamus to generate appetite, ghrelin also acts on the tabula rasa cortex. They observed how this hormone favoured the accumulation of lipids in visceral fatty tissue. In concrete, it causes the over-expression of the fatty genes that take part in the retention of lipids, explained Ms Rodríguez.