SHORT CHAIN FATTY ACIDS AND KETONES DIRECTLY REGULATE THE SYMPATHETIC (ADRENERGIC) NERVOUS SYSTEM

Another neurotransmitter system importantly involved in eating and glucose regulation is the sympathetic (adrenergic) nervous system, in which adrenaline (also called epinephrine) and noradrenaline (also called norepinephrine) are the neurotransmitters.

“To balance energy intake, dietary excess and fasting triggers an increase or a decrease in energy expenditure, respectively, by regulating activity of the sympathetic nervous system, and its dysregulation leads to metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. In feeding, excessive energy is consumed by the enhancement of sympathetic function, resulting in increases in heart rate and diet-induced thermogenesis, whereas in fasting, energy use is saved by the suppression of the sympathetic function as a survival mechanism, resulting in the reduction in heart rate and activity.” “In the present study, we show that SCFAs [short chain fatty acids] and ketone bodies, major energy sources in the body, directly regulate sympathetic activity via GPR41 [an SCFA receptor].” (Kimura, 2011) Perhaps the enhancement of sympathetic function resulting from eating a fatty meal at bedtime can cause insomnia.

Reference

Kimura et al. Short-chain fatty acids and ketones directly regulate sympathetic nervous system via G protein-coupled receptor 41 (GPR41). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108(19):8030-5 (2011).

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