MC4 receptor signalling after gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the capacity of the stomach and shunts nutrients to the distal intestine where they are sensed by nutrient‐sensing cells (endocrine cells) present within the gut lining that release signalling hormones. This gives a feeling of satiety (being full) after the smallest meal and so patients tend to lose weight rapidly. The effect of the surgery also reverses type 2 diabetes (T2D). 

Mutations in the brain receptor MC4 which stop it signalling properly have been shown by the team to result in obesity. The team’s aim is to establish how, where and when MC4R‐hormone signalling changes within the gut after bariatric surgery and if these changes are functionally important and beneficial and whether they might be mimicked chemically in future to reduce weight and normalise glucose metabolism.

Researchers

The research is being led by Professor Helen Cox, Professor of Pharmacology at King’s College London, together with Professor Francesco Rubino, Chair of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Why fund research into gastric bypass surgery?

Obesity is a significant and growing problem in the developed world. It is related to a number of other health issues, including type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. In the USA over one third of the population are now defined as obese. In the UK 1 in 4 adults are now classed as overweight or obese. The direct costs to the NHS of treating the problem are estimated to be £5.1billion per year.

Various studies in recent years have shown that obesity, particularly carrying weight around your middle, is a key risk factor for bowel cancer.

If the relationship between nutrients in the bowel and satiety can be found, it would radically improve our management of this growing epidemic.