A hormone found in the liver, FGF21, has been shown to regulate a person's preferences for sweet and alcoholic flavors.
Ever wonder why some people enjoy sweets while others are completely happy passing them up? According to a report from UPI, a new study published in the journal Cell suggests that a taste for sweets, as well as certain types of alcohol, is influenced by a specific hormone produced in the liver.
The hormone, called FGF21, has been shown by researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center to influence the brain’s reward center. This has a noticeable effect on cravings, and is produced when the body experienced extremely cold temperatures, sudden dietary changes and an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates.
The study strengthens the link between FGF21 and certain nervous system functions that influence what the brain craves. Researchers believe that the study could lead to new possible treatments for addictions, and could even influence treatments for type 2 diabetes.
According to Dr. Steven Kliewer, one of the study’s co-authors, “Our findings raise the possibility that FGF21 administration could affect nutrient preference and other reward behaviors in humans, and that the hormone could potentially be used to treat alcoholism.”
Researchers found that mice that had higher levels of FGF21 were less likely to prefer water sweetened with sugar or laced with alcohol. They also tested the link between the hormone in cravings in monkeys, who showed a dampened preference for sweet and boozy treats.
“The finding that FGF21 acts via the brain was completely unexpected when we started down this path of investigation a dozen years ago. These findings suggest that additional studies are warranted to assess the effects of FGF21 on sweet and alcohol preference and other reward behavior in humans.”
A press release from Cell describing the details of the study can be found here.