Home Health Your brain knows cholesterol, and that's good!


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Although scientists have long thought that cholesterol levels in the body were controlled solely by diet and liver production, a new study lead by a University of Cincinnati researcher has discovered that the brain also actively controls cholesterol levels.


The researchers of the study published their results in the journal Nature Neuroscience. It is entitled 'Melanocortin signaling in the CNS directly regulates circulating cholesterol.'

The researchers taking part in the study include U.S. neuroendocrinologist and physiologist Matthias H. Tschöp, who was the lead researcher in the study.

Dr. Tschöp (also spelled Tschoep), an obesity researcher, is associated with the Metabolic Diseases Institute, Division of Endocrinology, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry, at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.

Their study involved mice, but in the future they hope to replicate the experiment in humans.

The researchers found that a hunger hormone in the brain controls cholesterol that travels in the bloodstream of the body.

This hunger hormone, called ghrelin, caused high levels of blood cholesterol if increased levels of ghrelin was found.



Ghrelin is a hormone produced primarily by P/D1 cells, which line the fundus of the human stomach and epsilon cells of the pancreas. The hormone stimulates hungerr.

Dr. Tschoep stated within the BBC News article 'Brain regulates cholesterol in blood, study suggests' that: "We have long thought that cholesterol is exclusively regulated through dietary absorption or synthesis and secretion by the liver.'

Page two continues with another comment from Dr. Tschoep, along with more specifics about the brain and its role in cholesterol control.



Dr. Tschoep adds, "Our study shows for the first time that cholesterol is also under direct 'remote control' by specific neurocircuitry in the central nervous system."

They also stated in the abstract to their paper: 'We found that the CNS [central nervous system] is also an important regulator of cholesterol in rodents. Inhibiting the brain's melanocortin system by pharmacological, genetic or endocrine mechanisms increased circulating HDL cholesterol by reducing its uptake by the liver independent of food intake or body weight.'

'Our data suggest that a neural circuit in the brain is directly involved in the control of cholesterol metabolism by the liver.'

Thus, the brain remotely controls the level of blood cholesterol levels by transmitting signals from the brain to the liver where cholesterol is manufactured.

High levels of cholesterol are known to cause health issues in humans such as the blocking of arteries that may lead to a heart attack.

The finding from this important study has the potential for helping doctors treat people with circulation and heart problems with more effective medical methods.



Page three concludes with additional information on the study, along with helpful hints on how you can control your cholesterol levels.




The June 6, 2010 PhysOrg.com article "'Remote Control' for Cholesterol Regulation Discovered in Brain" adds more to this important story on the role of the brain and cholesterol control.


The article states, "Due to the differences in the make-up of mice and human cholesterol, Tschöp and his team say more work is needed before their studies could be directly applied to humans, but they say their finding adds to a growing body of evidence for the central nervous system's direct control over essential metabolic processes."


Learn more about the control of cholesterol at the Merck website "You Can Control Your Cholesterol."




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