The ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) is a well-known brain “satiety center” that prevents weight gain in humans and other animals by controlling adipose tissue function. Faulty communication between VMH brain cells and fat tissue can lead to abnormal eating and metabolic problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has awarded Yunlei Yang, M.D., Ph.D., a four year, $1.8 million grant to study neural circuit pathways that originate in the VMH and modulate the functions of fat tissue. Using transgenic mice and techniques including chemo/optogenetics and fiber photometry, he and his colleagues will test their hypothesis that subsets of VMH neurons use different brain circuits to control different metabolic processes in fat tissue. The researchers will also determine which genes and receptors are expressed in those circuits and whether inhibiting cell-type specific signals in VMH neurons can prevent mice fed high-fat diets from becoming obese. Learning more about the circuits connecting the VMH with fat tissue should help in designing drugs to combat obesity.
Dr. Yang is professor of medicine and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein (R01DK135717).
Posted on: Wednesday, May 03, 2023