Emotions and behaviors such as hunger and reward-seeking are highly influenced by signals transmitted from internal organs to the brain via the vagus nerve. In addition, people who suffer from psychological disorders often experience changes in eating behavior.
Young-Hwan Jo, Ph.D., was recently awarded a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to study the liver’s vagal sensory neurons, which may regulate appetite by responding to changes in blood glucose and transmitting the information to the brain. In previous research, Dr. Jo has found evidence suggesting that the appetite-regulating vagal nerves that project into brain structures may also play a key role in psychological disorders including depression and bipolar disorder due to disruptions in those neural circuits. By analyzing the function and behavior of the vagal sensory nerves of the liver, Dr. Jo and colleagues hope to better understand the nutrient and hormonal signals from the liver that drive feeding and reward behavior and may also play a role in causing psychological problems.
Dr. Jo is an associate professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology at Einstein. (1R01AT011653-01)
Posted on: Friday, October 29, 2021