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Developing Novel Approaches for the Treatment of Obesity

Faculty Mentor

Sergei Zolotukhin
Associate Professor Pediatrics

Research Project Description

In the face of the obesity epidemic in the US, and in spite of massive effort from the pharmaceutical industry, no successful pharmacological treatment has been established. In addition to being ineffective, many current antiobesity drugs invoke numerous deleterious side effects. In my lab, we have discovered the presence of the gut satiation hormone PYY in murine and human saliva. We have also found that experimental augmentation of salivary PYY reduced food intake and body weight in obese mice. Currently we’re working on the novel treatment for obesity based on the hypothesis that salivary PYY modulates ingestive behavior by affecting lipid sensing thus inducing the negative feedback through hedonic/reward pathway. We’re conducting experiments with human patient samples in order to establish the correlation between the plasma and salivary satiation hormones before and after the meal, as well as in lean and obese patients. Medical students will participate in testing saliva and plasma samples for the presence and concentration of anorexic hormones. Funding for the project is provided, in part, by the NIH.

Acosta A, Hurtado MD, Gorbatyuk O, La Sala M, Duncan D, Aslanidi G, Campbell-Thompson M, Zhang L, Herzog H, Voutetakis A, Baum BJ, Zolotukhin S. Salivary PYY: A Putative Bypass to Satiety. PLos ONE 2011; 6(10):e26137.