A drug for the eyes opens new perspectives against obesity – La Tribune

This content is produced by Laval University.

It is said that the paths of science are sometimes impenetrable. As evidence of this, bimatoprost, a drug used to relieve eye hypertension and make eyelashes fuller, is now helping to open new horizons in understanding and treating obesity. A new step in this direction has just been taken by a team led by Cristoforo Silvestri, professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Laval.

Bimatoprost, marketed as Lumigan, was approved in the United States in 2001 to treat ocular hypertension, a common problem in people with glaucoma. One of the side effects of this medication is that it causes the fat pads around the eyeball to shrink.

It was this side effect that sparked Professor Silvestri’s interest in bimatoprost and its natural analog produced by the body, the prostaglandin F2α-ethanolamide (PGF2αEA), more than 10 years ago. A current study that he has just published together with Besma Boubertakh, Olivier Courtemanche, David Marsolais and Vincenzo Di Marzo in the Journal of Lipid Research describes the effect of these molecules on certain cells in fatty tissue.

“Bimatoprost and PGF2αEA act on the precursor cells of adipose tissue, the preadipocytes,” explains doctoral student in molecular medicine and first author of the study, Besma Boubertakh. Prereadipocytes transform into fat cells (adipocytes) by storing lipids. However, adipocytes have a limited storage capacity. Excessive accumulation of lipids can lead to their death and trigger an inflammatory response in the body, a problem often associated with obesity.

“We believe bimatoprost is a potential candidate for the treatment of obesity as it would promote healthier fat storage in the body. »

—Besma Boubertakh

Experiments that Professor Silvestri’s team conducted on cell cultures showed that bimatoprost and PGF2αEA inhibit the differentiation of preadipocytes into adipocytes (a process called adipogenesis) and promote the proliferation of preadipocytes. In other words, they would stimulate the growth of the number of preadipocytes and prevent the growth of adipocytes.

The inhibitory effect of bimatoprost and PGF2αEA on adipogenesis suggests a new way to treat obesity in the medium term, believes Besma Boubertakh. “We believe that bimatoprost is a potential candidate for the treatment of obesity as it would promote healthier fat storage in the body,” she concludes.