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Dec 27, 2015 01:12 AM EST

Liver hormone regulates cravings for sugar, alcohol: Study

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A recent study has revealed that a liver hormone has the ability to reduce sweet and alcohol cravings in mammals, UPI reports.

The study was published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The study, led by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers, found that the liver hormone, fibroblast growth factor 21, acts via the brain works to diminish cravings.

During the study, researchers found that mice with higher levels of the hormone showed a lessened preference for sweetened water and alcohol-laced water.

"Our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviors in humans, and that the hormone could potentially be used to treat alcoholism," co-senior author of the study, Dr. Steven Kliewer, said in a statement.

The hormone is usually activated in the brain by extreme cold temperatures, abrupt changes in diet and in carbohydrate consumption.

According to Medical Daily, once FGF21 enters the bloodstream, it suppresses sugar cravings by acting on the hypothalamus, a brain region responsible for regulating food intake and energy homeostasis.

The researchers said that the hormone FGF21 might pave way for the new treatment methods of certain addictions and type 2 diabetes.

Co-senior author Dr. David Mangelsdorf said that monkeys with increased FGF21 levels also displayed diminished cravings for sweets.

"The finding that FGF21 acts via the brain was completely unexpected when we started down this path of investigation a dozen years ago," Kilewer said.

"These findings suggest that additional studies are warranted to assess the effects of FGF21 on sweet and alcohol preference and other reward behavior in humans."

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