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Why Some Meds Cause Weight Gain

New research may help new generation medications avoid the troubling and even life-threatening complication of associated weight gain. Currently, some pharmaceuticals used for treating mental illnesses trigger patients to gain so much weight that they often develop life-threatening complications such as diabetes and heart disease.

“We’ve now connected a whole class of antipsychotics to natural brain chemicals that trigger appetite,” says Solomon H. Snyder, M.D., professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Our identification of the molecular players that link such drugs to increased food intake means there’s now hope for finding a newer generation of drugs without the weight-gain side effects.”

The discovery will be published online next week at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous research already had identified increased levels and actions of one particular enzyme, AMPK, in brain cells as a control lever for appetite in mice and presumably humans.

Suspecting that antipsychotic drugs might spike AMPK in the brain to overact, the Johns Hopkins team injected mice with clozapine (Clozaril), which, with olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal), is commonly prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in people who do poorly on conventional drugs.

Mice given clozapine showed quadrupled AMPK activity compared to activity measured pre-drug.

The researchers then gave the mice leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and as suspected, saw lowered AMPK levels.
Drilling down further into what controls AMPK and its boost of hunger, Sangwon Kim, Ph.D., a research associate and lead author of the study, “rounded up the usual suspects, brain proteins known to relay communication from cell to cell.”

Systematically manipulating these cell-signaling proteins, Snyder’s team found that blocking one in particular, a receptor site for histamine, a well-known player in triggering classic allergy symptoms, activates AMPK to the same extent as clozapine. To confirm that the histamine receptor connects the drug, AMPK activity and appetite, the team gave clozapine to mice genetically engineered without a histamine receptor.

Results? Peace. No heightened AMPK activity.

“Histamine also has a long history as a suspect in weight control, but no one ever could put a finger on the exact link,” says Snyder. “The connection we’ve made between its receptor and appetite control is incredibly intriguing and opens new avenues for research on weight control, possibly including drugs that suppress appetite safely.”

The research was funded by the U.S. Public Health Service, Canadian Institute of Health Research, National Institutes of Health and National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Why Some Meds Cause Weight Gain

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Why Some Meds Cause Weight Gain. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/02/13/why-some-meds-cause-weight-gain/621.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.