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Researchers demonstrate effectiveness of migraine medications in weight loss

by Pragati Singh

weightTriptans, a regularly prescribed type of migraine medications, may also be effective in the treatment of obesity, according to a recent study.
A daily dosage of triptan caused obese mice to eat less food and lose weight over the course of a month in experiments. “We’ve demonstrated that there is great potential to repurpose these previously proven to be safe medications for appetite suppression and weight reduction,” said research leader Chen Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Neuroscience and an investigator in the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

Triptans, which are used to treat acute migraines and cluster headaches, act by blocking a separate receptor, the serotonin 1B receptor (Htr1b), which has previously not been thoroughly explored in the context of hunger and weight loss, according to Dr. Liu.

Six prescription triptans were examined in obese mice fed a high-fat diet for seven weeks for the latest study. Mice administered two of these medications ate almost the same amount as mice fed the other four. Mice given a daily dosage of the medication frovatriptan lost 3.6 percent of their body weight after 24 days, but mice not given a triptan gained 5.1 percent of their body weight.

Dr. Liu and his colleagues saw comparable outcomes after implanting devices into the animals that delivered a constant dosage of frovatriptan for 24 days.

“We discovered that certain medications, particularly one in particular, may reduce body weight and enhance glucose metabolism in less than a month, which is rather amazing,” Dr. Liu stated.

Dr. Liu believes that because triptans are typically recommended for short-term usage during migraines, patients may not have recognised the longer-term effects on hunger and weight in the past.

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The researchers produced mice lacking either Htr1b or Htr2c, the serotonin receptors targeted by fen-phen and lorcaserin, to assess how frovatriptan affects food intake and weight.

In mice lacking Htr1b, frovatriptan had no effect on hunger or weight reduction, but removing Htr2c had no effect. This demonstrated that the medication was effective by targeting the serotonin 1B receptor.

“This discovery might be essential for medication development,” Dr. Liu stated. “We not only shed light on the possibilities for repurposing current triptans, but we also highlighted Htr1b as a candidate for treating obesity and regulating food intake.”

The scientists went on to establish which neurons in the brain were most significant for Htr1b’s function in appetite mediation, zeroing in on a small group of cells in the hypothalamus.

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