Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The hormone lipocalin-2, found naturally in humans and mice, could potentially treat obesity, a new study found.
The LCN2 hormone, secreted by bone cells and found naturally in mice and humans, has previously been shown to make mice feel full after a meal, researchers say.
"LCN2 acts as a signal for satiety after a meal, leading mice to limit their food intake, and it does this by acting on the hypothalamus within the brain," lead study author Peristera-loanna Petropoulou said in a press release.
"We wanted to see whether LCN2 has similar effects in humans, and whether a dose of it would be able to cross the blood-brain barrier," said Petropoulou, who was a Columbia University postdoctoral research scientist during the study and is now at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center.
Researchers found that the LCN2 hormone was also associated with a reduced feeling of hunger after a meal, according to the study, published Tuesday in the journal eLife.
Analysts conducted the study by analyzing the amount of LCN2 in study participants blood before and after a meal.
They found an increase in LCN2 levels in people of normal weight coinciding with a feeling of satiety after a meal, but decreased levels in people who were overweight or had obesity.
Researchers said this suggests that lower levels of LCN2 may contribute to obesity and that the hormone may have potential as an obesity treatment.
"We have shown that LCN2 crosses to the brain, makes its way to the hypothalamus and suppresses food intake in non-human primates," said senior study author Stavroula Kousteni.
"Our results show that the hormone can curb appetite with negligible toxicity and lay the groundwork for the next level of LCN2 testing for clinical use," said Kousteni, a Columbia University professor of physiology and cellular biophysics.