Objective: Body weight development is closely regulated by central nervous mechanisms. As has been demonstrated recently, the capability of the brain to actively demand energy from the body (brain-pull) is indispensable for the maintenance of systemic homeostasis. A deficit in this brain-pull may result in compensatory ingestive behavior followed by weight gain in the medium or long term. The aim of this study was to establish a biomarker of such an incompetent brain-pull. Since lactate is an alternative cerebral energy substrate to glucose, we investigated whether low fasting plasma lactate concentrations are associated with weight gain and increased feelings of hunger in patients with type 2 diabetes over a 3-year period. Methods: In a population based cohort study 134 type 2 diabetes patients were examined at baseline and 3-year follow-up. Plasma lactate concentrations and additional hormones associated with food intake such as e.g. insulin, or leptin, as well as psychological variables like hunger feelings before and after a standardized breakfast were measured. The relation between fasting plasma lactate concentrations and postprandial hunger as well as follow-up weight was analyzed. Results: Low fasting plasma lactate concentrations predicted a higher 3-year follow-up weight (B= -1.268, SE = 0.625, p= 0.04). Moreover, low fasting plasma lactate concentrations were associated with more pronounced feelings of postprandial hunger (B= -0.406, SE = 0.137, p< 0.01). Conclusions: We conclude that low plasma lactate concentrations may represent a biomarker of an incompetent brain-pull, which is associated with weight gain and increased postprandial hunger in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. These results are in line with the view that plasma lactate can be used by the brain as an alternative energy substrate and thereby to some extent prevent overeating and obesity.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)