According to a recent study, a stomach protein known as GKN1 could be the key to being lean.
GKN1: Key Being Lean
A new study from the Indiana School of Medicine has shown that a particular protein found in the stomach plays a crucial role in weight gain. The research may lead to new medical interventions to help those who struggle to lose weight and maintain weight loss.
“While diet and exercise are critical to maintaining a healthy weight, some individuals struggle with weight loss — even in cases of bariatric surgery [i.e. stomach stapling], maintaining weight loss can be a challenge,” said one of the co-authors of the study. “These results are an example of how a better understanding of the gut microbiome and the physiological aspects of obesity — how our bodies regulate metabolism and accumulate body fat — could help inform new therapies.”
The researchers focused on gastrokine-1 (GKN1), a protein which is produced in large volumes in the stomach and nowhere else. Prior research had already showed that this protein is resistant to being digested and passes into the gut, where it interacts with microbes.
By inhibiting this protein in mice, the researchers were able to demonstrate its powerful effects on weight management.
The researchers analysed the microbiomes of mice with and without the GKN1 protein inhibited. They measured food intake, caloric extraction, blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels, and used MRI scans to monitor body composition in detail. Energy expenditure and levels of inflammation were also monitored.
The mice with GKN1 inhibited weighed less and had lower levels of total body fat and higher percentages of lean mass, even though they consumed the same amount of food as the other mice. When put on a high-fat diet, models with GKN1 inhibited were resistant to weight gain, increased body fat and liver inflammation, which can lead to liver disease.
Incredibly, researchers also found no evidence of adverse side effects as a result of the inhibition. The results were also consistent across the genders.
While the dangers of being overweight or obese were already well established, they have received extra scrutiny over the past year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 1 in 3 adults in the US are considered to be overweight, and more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese; 1 in 6 children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are considered to be obese. About 1 in 13 adults have extreme obesity.
Coronavirus patients on ventilators
Research has shown that patients who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of suffering the disease more severely. Although reducing obesity in the short term may not be a practicable answer to the current crisis, officials now seem to be realizing that reducing obesity “will likely reduce the disease burden in future viral pandemics and reduce risks of complications like heart disease and stroke.”
At the same time, studies have shown that the risk of obesity, especially in children, has been worsened by the lockdowns and other social restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic.