Researchers with Barts and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, have published a study suggesting that speciallydesigned nutrient capsules could activate cell receptors in the intestines to help regulate feelings of satiety, thus reducing overall food intake. Erin L Symonds, et al., “Mechanisms of activation of mouse and human enteroendocrine cells by nutrients,” Gut, July 2014.

Noting that gastric bypass surgery curbs appetite by shunting nutrients to the distal gut where dietary sugars, amino acids and fatty acids stimulate enteroendocrine cells (EEC) to release gut hormones, the study’s authors assessed the mRNA expression of 17 nutrient receptors and EEC mediators in mouse and human gut epithelium to determine “which nutrient receptors are expressed in which gut regions and in which cells in mouse and human, how they are associated with different types of EEC, how they are activated leading to hormone and 5-HT [5-Hydroxytryptamine] release.” 

The results evidently showed that “the distal gut of humans and mice is extensively equipped with sensors for products of fat and protein digestion, and that these associate with specific signaling pathways,” which in turn “are associated with the release of specific mediators.” Based on these findings, the researchers hypothesized that “refining nutrient preloads and formulating them to target the distal gut” could constitute a successful anti-diabetic strategy to complement or even replace gastric bypass surgery.

“We believe it’s possible to trick the digestive into behaving as if a bypass has taken place,” Professor of Enteric Neuroscience Ashley Blackshaw explained in a media statement. “This can be done by administering specific food supplements which release strong stimuli in the same area of the lower bowel. It’s a bit like sending a specific food parcel straight to the body’s emergency exit, and when it gets there, all the alarms go off.” See The Telegraph, July 15, 2014.