How Was Semaglutide Discovered to Help With Appetite Control?

Published on April 1, 2024, by Sema.Health, this article delves into the discovery of semaglutide’s potential as an appetite suppressant, originating from its development as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist for managing type 2 diabetes. GLP-1, a hormone produced in the gut, regulates blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretion and decreasing glucagon release. Beyond glycemic control, clinical trials revealed that GLP-1 receptor agonists like semaglutide also induce weight loss and suppress appetite.

The precise mechanisms underlying semaglutide’s appetite-controlling effects remain incompletely understood, although several hypotheses have been proposed:

  • Delayed Gastric Emptying: Semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists can decelerate the rate at which the stomach empties its contents into the intestines. This delay may contribute to feelings of fullness and reduced appetite post-meals.
  • Central Nervous System Effects: GLP-1 receptors are present in brain regions involved in appetite regulation, such as the hypothalamus. Semaglutide’s activation of these receptors might influence neuronal signaling pathways governing hunger and satiety.
  • Enhanced Reward Pathways: Research suggests that GLP-1 receptor agonists could modulate brain areas linked to reward processing and food cravings, potentially diminishing the allure of high-calorie foods.
  • Increased Energy Expenditure: GLP-1 receptor agonists have been shown to heighten energy expenditure, potentially via effects on metabolism and fat oxidation. This could facilitate weight loss by promoting the burning of surplus calories.

Clinical trials investigating semaglutide’s effects on appetite control and weight loss have yielded promising outcomes. Notably, the STEP (Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with obesity) clinical trial program demonstrated that administering semaglutide at higher doses than those used for diabetes management resulted in significant reductions in body weight compared to placebo. These findings have consequently led to the approval of semaglutide for treating obesity in certain regions.