CNTF, weight loss and nerve growth

A new article out today in Science magazine looks at how CNTF (a nerve growth factor) may act to initiate and maintain weight loss. The study suggests that administering CNTF causes new growth of nerves in the hypothalamus (or recruits new cells into the hypothalamus).
If correct (and it is somewhat controversial) it would explain why CNTF seems to have long-term effects on weight loss and also support the view that the adult brain is more plastic (ie, able to grow and change) than previously thought. Note that a drug that mimics the effects of CNTF (Axokine) was in clinical trials, but patients developed antibodies to the drug, which stopped it from working. This study may re-stimulate drug companies to pursue new ways to activate the CNTF path of weight loss.

Neurogenesis in the Hypothalamus of Adult Mice: Potential Role in Energy Balance
Maia V. Kokoeva, Huali Yin, Jeffrey S. Flier. Science Vol. 310: 679 683, 2005

DOI: 10.1126/science.1115360

Topics: Research

Theresa Strong


Theresa V. Strong, Ph.D., received a B.S. from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). After postdoctoral studies with Dr. Francis Collins at the University of Michigan, she joined the UAB faculty, leading a research lab focused on gene therapy for cancer and directing UAB’s Vector Production Facility. Theresa is one of the founding members of FPWR and has directed FPWR’s grant program since its inception. In 2016, she transitioned to a full-time position as Director of Research Programs at FPWR. She remains an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Genetics at UAB. She and her husband Jim have four children, including a son with PWS.

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