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Compound limits magnesium transport in cellular power plants called mitochondria.
A small-molecule drug, CPACC, developed by researchers, has been shown to prevent weight gain and liver issues in mice by limiting magnesium transport in cellular power plants, thus improving metabolism and overall health.
Researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) have developed a small-molecule drug that prevents weight gain and adverse liver changes in mice fed a high-sugar, high-fat Western diet throughout life.
“When we give this drug to the mice for a short time, they start losing weight. They all become slim,” said Madesh Muniswamy, PhD, professor of medicine in the health science center’s Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.
“A drug that can reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases such as heart attack and stroke, and also reduce the incidence of liver cancer, which can follow fatty liver disease, will make a huge impact.” — Madesh Muniswamy, PhD
Findings by the collaborators, also from the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, were published recently in the high-impact journal
Fourth most common element
The research team discovered the drug by first exploring how magnesium impacts metabolism, which is the production and consumption of energy in cells. This energy, called ATP, fuels the body’s processes.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant cation, or positively charged ion, in the body after calcium, potassium, and sodium, and plays many key roles in good health, including regulating blood sugar and blood pressure and building bones. But the researchers found that too much magnesium slows energy production in mitochondria, which are cells’ power plants.
“It puts the brake on, it just slows down,” said co-lead author Travis R. Madaris, doctoral student in the Muniswamy laboratory at UT Health San Antonio.
Deleting MRS2, a gene that promotes magnesium transport into the mitochondria, resulted in more efficient metabolism of sugar and fat in the power plants. The result: skinny, healthy mice.
Liver and adipose (fat) tissues in the rodents showed no evidence of fatty liver disease, a complication related to poor diet, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
The drug, which the researchers call CPACC, accomplishes the same thing. It restricts the amount of magnesium transfer into the power plants. In experiments, the result was again: skinny, healthy mice. UT Health San Antonio has filed a patent application on the drug.
The mice served as a model system of long-term dietary stress precipitated by the calorie-rich, sugary, and fatty Western diet. The familiar results of this stress are obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular complications.
“Lowering the mitochondrial magnesium mitigated the adverse effects of prolonged dietary stress,” said co-lead author Manigandan Venkatesan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Muniswamy lab.
Joseph A. Baur, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania and Justin J. Wilson, PhD, of Cornell are among the collaborators. “We came up with the small molecule and Justin synthesized it,” Madaris said.
“These findings are the result of several years of work,” Muniswamy said. “A drug that can reduce the risk of cardiometabolic diseases such as heart attack and stroke, and also reduce the incidence of liver cancer, which can follow fatty liver disease, will make a huge impact. We will continue its development.”
Reference: “Limiting Mrs2-dependent mitochondrial Mg2+ uptake induces metabolic programming in prolonged dietary stress” by Travis R. Madaris, Manigandan Venkatesan, Soumya Maity, Miriam C. Stein, Neelanjan Vishnu, Mridula K. Venkateswaran, James G. Davis, Karthik Ramachandran, Sukanthathulse Uthayabalan, Cristel Allen, Ayodeji Osidele, Kristen Stanley, Nicholas P. Bigham, Terry M. Bakewell, Melanie Narkunan, Amy Le, Varsha Karanam, Kang Li, Aum Mhapankar, Luke Norton, Jean Ross, M. Imran Aslam, W. Brian Reeves, Brij B. Singh, Jeffrey Caplan, Justin J. Wilson, Peter B. Stathopulos, Joseph A. Baur and Muniswamy Madesh, 27 February 2023, Cell Reports.
Funders of this project include the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense and the San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics.