Sweet and alcohol preferences are regulated by a liver hormone: study

Findings of a study conducted recently are suggesting that a hormone produced by the liver is capable of reducing alcohol and sweet cravings in mammals.

A team of researchers representing the UT Southwestern Medical Center, during a recent research, has come to know about a hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21. The said hormone works through the reward system of the brain for weakening cravings.

The researchers are saying that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) gets induced into the body during excessively low temperatures, after carbohydrate consumption and due to sudden modification in diet.

The study, which has been published in the popular scientific journal Cell Metabolism on Thursday, has thrown up findings that establish a strong link between the nervous system and the liver-borne hormone. The researchers involved in the study believe that with further research, we might see the hormone FGF21 throw up fresh possibilities for treatment procedures of type 2 diabetes and certain addictions.

In one of his recent statements, Dr. Steven Kliewer, one of the study’s co-senior authors, said that the findings put forward by the study conducted by him and his colleagues raise the prospect that administration of the hormone FGF21 might have an impact on nutrient preference and several other reward behaviors showcased by humans. Dr. Kliewer added that this liver-borne hormone could possibly be used as a treatment for alcoholism.

The results of the study showed that rodents boasting higher levels of FGF21 have a much lower preference for alcohol-laced water and sweetened water than those with lower levels of the hormone.

Dr. David Mangelsdorf, another co-senior author of the study, said that during the study he and his co-researchers found that even monkeys with higher levels of FGF21 showcased weakened cravings for sweets.


The study’s findings successfully establish a deep connection between the nervous system and FGF21. After inspecting the hormone four times, the researchers have concluded that FGF21 does possess the ability of regulating metabolism, internal clock of the body, and female reproduction.

Dr. Kliewer informed that for him and his co-researchers, the finding that the hormone FGF21 acts through the brain was something absolutely unexpected. He added that now they are looking to carry out studies for assessing the impact of the hormone on alcohol and sweet preference and other such reward behaviors of humans.