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Semaglutide: Appetite Suppression & Neurological Effects
What is Semaglutide?
Semaglutide, also known as the Glucagon-like Peptide (GLP-1), is a naturally-occurring peptide hormone. It is a very short peptide of about 30 or 31 peptides only. The body’s natural function is to regulate blood glucose levels at an average value by interfering with endogenous insulin production and secretion.
It peculiarly mediates this insulin-altering function. Semaglutide peptide protects the beta cell insulin stores in the pancreas by upregulating the insulin gene transcription.
Apart from this main action of Semaglutide peptide, it also has neurotrophic effects on the brain and the central nervous system.
Semaglutide peptide also plays a very significant role in hunger and appetite regulation in the GIT. It causes the delay of gastric emptying and reduction of intestinal motility.
Recent studies on the semaglutide peptide have shown its effects on the liver, kidneys, lungs, muscles, bones, fat, and the heart.
Even though the Semaglutide peptide has mainly been investigated for its use in treating and preventing diabetes, it helps with appetite suppression, and newer studies suggest its role in preventing cardiovascular diseases and complications. Other studies are investigating its potential role in controlling neurodegenerative diseases.
Even though this development needs more research, it is an advancement because the peptide has shown significant results in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by slowing down the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, which is the primary pathology of the disease.
Research conducted on the working and mechanism of action of the Semaglutide peptide revealed two significant mechanisms by which it mediates most of its effects. These two mechanisms are described under separate headings below:
The “Incretin Effect” Of Semaglutide
One of the essential effects of Semaglutide- according to research conducted by Dr. Holst- is the “incretin effect.” Incretins are a group of potent metabolic hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract. The incretins are involved in decreasing the circulating blood sugar levels in the body. Apart from gastrointestinal peptide (GIP), semaglutide or GLP-1 is the more important regulator of these hormones in the GIT.
The semaglutide or GLP-1 receptors exist on pancreatic beta cells, directly stimulating insulin release from the pancreas. This increased insulin secretion has also been linked with other beneficial metabolic effects like increased amino acid uptake by muscle cells and increased protein synthesis and breakdown.
Beta Cell Protection
The pancreatic beta cells are the central insulin-secreting cells. Therefore, their destruction, downregulation, or apoptosis due to any reason can be one of the main pathologies behind diabetes. Protection of these beta cells from destruction can improve the prognosis of diabetes and reduce the risk of its development.
Some compelling research on diabetic mice models has shown that Semaglutide peptide protects the pancreatic beta cells in two ways.
Firstly, GLP-1 stimulates the growth and proliferation of new beta cells from their progenitors in the pancreatic duct epithelium. Secondly, GLP-1 inhibits the apoptosis of these cells by inhibiting the inflammatory cytokines involved in the process.
The net effect of these two actions tips the balance towards a more significant number of pancreatic beta cells allowing them to potentially be used in the treatment of diabetes and protecting the pancreas against insults that harms beta cells.
Studies conducted on mouse models showed that administering Semaglutide peptide reduced hunger levels and food intake in mice. Clinical studies showed that the administration of GLP-1 agonists resulted in weight loss and the attainment of a leaner figure in mice.
This weight loss was also linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk and decreased HbA1C levels. HbA1C is the gold standard for assessing the severity of diabetes and the success of its treatment.
Semaglutide and The Brain
There has been significant evidence that the peptide plays a role in controlling the progress of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s.
It is said that the GLP-1 receptors in the brain reduce the deposition of beta-amyloid plaques, which is the primary pathology involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies on rats showed that the administration of Semaglutide peptide improved associative and spatial learning and improved the learning deficit in mice with known genetic defects.
Disclaimer: The products mentioned are not intended for human or animal consumption. Research chemicals are intended solely for laboratory experimentation and/or in-vitro testing. Bodily introduction of any sort is strictly prohibited by law. All purchases are limited to licensed researchers and/or qualified professionals. All information shared in this article is for educational purposes only.
Dr. Usman (BSc, MBBS, MaRCP) completed his studies in medicine at the Royal College of Physicians, London. He is an avid researcher with more than 30 publications in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Usman has worked as a researcher and a medical consultant for reputable pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.