by Jessica Ellis
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) - a generic term to describe a multitude of disorders that affect one’s heart, is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This disease is caused by deposits of cholesterol, lipids and fat building on a person’s arteries making them non-elastic and narrow. Previous studies have blamed the accumulation of cholesterol and fats in the body due to genetics. Others have accused inadequate regulation of energy balance, what you eat. Recent studies, however, have even begun to focus on the central nervous system as a cause for CVD. Some studies have involved the observation of lesions, mutations in cells, in a section of the brain called the hypothalamus, which results in obesity. A study conducted by Diego Perez-Tilve et al. at the Metabolic Diseases Institute of University of Cincinnati proposes that he central nervous system has an effect on the production of cholesterol and fat build up in the body. They suggest that through better understanding of how the central nervous system promotes or represses specific hormones and proteins new therapies can be developed for the elimination of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
Perez-Tilve et al. discovered Leptin, a hormone produced in the central nervous system, to be a hormone that inhibits a person’s appetite. They also observed that the hormone had an influential role in the manufacture of the “good” cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL). They found that mice injected with leptin increase the amount of HDL in their blood stream. When mice were not subjected to increased amounts of Leptin.their HDL was lower. In addition to the production of “good” cholesterol being influenced by leptin, this hormone also affects the elimination of cholesterol through bile production and emission. Bile is formed in the liver and aids in the digestion of fat and cholesterol. With leptin production increased, the removal of excess fat in the body can be conducted quicker and more efficiently. Perez-Tilve et al. state however, that they do not know of the process in which the central nervous system and leptin controls the production of bile and HDL and suggest further study should be conducted to aid in this innovative weight loss system.
Another method of how the central nervous system affects cholesterol and fat production is through the neuropeptide Y (NPY). NPY is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that passes information between cells. NPY is located in the hypothalamus that controls feeding and energy balance. Perez-Tilve et al. observed that mice injected with NPY increases production of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. The reason why LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol is that it binds to the walls of the arteries inducing atherosclerosis. With the discovery of the effects of NPY production by the central nervous system the ability to help eliminate VLDL is in near sight.
Family history, a person’s metabolism and food intake are usual suspects for cardiovascular disease. However, a new suggestion for obesity, diabetes, and hypertension from Perez-Tilve et al. is the central nervous system. They propose that the amount of the hormone leptin and the neurotransmitter NYP controlled by the central nervous system influence the quantity of cholesterol and fat in the body. Additional research needs to be conducted to better understand the process of these molecules on cholesterol and fat production in hopes of developing a new technique for weight loss. Who would have guessed the brain would be a factor in the struggle for a healthy heart.
- "File:Cerebral lobes.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cerebral_lobes.png>.
- Perez-Tilve, Diego. "Neural Regulation of Cholesterol Metabolism." Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 22 (2011): 283-287. Print.