The success of many bariatric surgeries has led some experts to propose a new approach to the war on obesity.

Researchers believe targeting taste receptors in the stomach may result in similar outcomes of satiety, without the surgery.

The stomach has multiple sensor receptors identifying what we eat — bitter, sweet, fat, and savory — in much the same way as the tongue. The stomach receptors use similar signaling mechanisms as found in the mouth. The result is the release of hormones to control satiety and blood sugar levels when food reaches the gut.

The sensors, or receptors, in the stomach respond to excess food intake, and their malfunction may play a role in the development of obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic conditions.

Drs. Sara Janssen and Inge Depoortere, at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, say growing evidence suggests that obesity and related conditions might be prevented or treated by selective targeting of taste receptors on cells in the gut to release hormones that signal a feeling of fullness, thereby mimicking the physiological effects of a meal and fooling the body into thinking that it has eaten.

“The effectiveness of bariatric surgery to cause profound weight loss and a decrease in the prevalence of diabetes and other obesity-related conditions is not completely understood, but it may involve changes in the release of gut hormones,” said Depoortere.

“Targeting extraoral taste receptors that affect the release of hormones that control food intake may offer a new road to mimic these effects in a nonsurgical manner.”

Reseachers say additional studies are needed to show which gut taste receptors might be effective drug targets for the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes.

Source: Cell Press