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Peptide YY Function and Therapeutic Potential


Written by Dr. Chris Smith, Updated on October 7th, 2020
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Pancreatic Peptide YY is one of many hormones involved in digestive activity. It is produced by L-cells along with a handful of other hormones. These cells are primarily located in the ileum and colon. Also referred to simply as Peptide YY, this important hormone is released in response to eating. Peptide YY is responsible for sending signal from the digestive tract to the brain in order to signal the feeling of fullness.

When Peptide YY acts on the brain, it induces the sensation of fullness and suppresses appetite. Peptide YY also operates within the digestive system itself, slowing down the rate by which food passes through the Gastrointestinal Tract. Peptide YY is released in tandem with Glucagon-like peptide 1, which is very important to glucose management.

Modulation of Peptide YY

Peptide YY is intricately involved in digestive activity. The digestive system releases the hormone as food enters and passes through the GI Tract. It responds strongest to the presence of protein and fat, and it is less responsive to carbohydrates. Peptide YY activity is positively correlated with caloric consumption. Calorie-dense foods release more Peptide YY into the bloodstream than foods with fewer calories.

Peptide YY Levels also increase in the presence of digestive fluid and cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin is released by duodenum cells and activates the pancreas to produce enzymes and the liver to secrete bile.

Circulating Peptide YY is fairly predictable. Levels are at their highest around two hours after eating and slowly drop over time. Peptide YY levels are at their lowest after long durations without food, especially upon waking up from sleep.

The Effects of Peptide YY Abnormalities

Under normal circumstances, Peptide YY performs dutifully. Some people produce too much or too little Peptide YY, however. Abnormally low Peptide YY Levels are more common than having chronically high levels of the hormone. Elevated Peptide YY is associated with IBS, Celiac Disease, and anorexia, along with some forms of cancer, and leads to reduced appetite.

When Peptide YY Levels are chronically low, it suppresses feelings of satiety and frequently leads to weight gain. Most commonly, clinically low Peptide YY levels are associated with Pre-Diabetes, Type-2 Diabetes, and Obesity. Current research suggests that Suppressed Peptide YY Levels are a secondary effect of obesity, which can be corrected by weight loss.

Could Peptide YY Be Used for Weight Loss?

Peptide YY shows some promise as a potential treatment for obesity. The goal of prescription Peptide YY would be to mitigate feelings of hunger to make it easier to stave off hunger and cravings. Some ongoing studies use a combination of gastrointestinal hormones known as GOP as a potential means to help men and women lose weight. GOP is an acronym for GLP-1, oxyntomodulin, and Peptide YY. This treatment shows promise for both encouraging significant weight loss and controlling blood sugar.

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