Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Treating obesity via brain glucose sensing

Date:
August 1, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The past two decades have witnessed an epidemic spread of obesity-related diseases in Western countries. Elucidating the biological mechanism that links overnutrition to obesity could prove crucial in reducing obesity levels. A new study finds that a defect in the brain's glucose-sensing process contributes to the development of obesity and related disease. Importantly, correction of this defect can normalize the whole-body energy balance and treat obesity.

The past two decades have witnessed an epidemic spread of obesity-related diseases in Western countries. Elucidating the biological mechanism that links overnutrition to obesity could prove crucial in reducing obesity levels. In the July 26 issue of PLoS Biology, Dr. Dongsheng Cai and his research team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine describe a pathway that directs the brain to sense the body's glucose dynamics, and they find that a defect of this glucose sensing process contributes to the development of obesity and related disease. Importantly, the team also found that correction of this defect can normalize the whole-body energy balance and treat obesity.

Related Articles


The hypothalamus in the brain plays a key role in controlling energy and body weight balance. To maintain balance between energy intake and energy expenditure, the hypothalamus constantly gauges the whole-body's energy levels by sampling circulating hormones (e.g. insulin and leptin) as well as nutrients (e.g., glucose). Although we know quite a bit about the hormonal pathways in the hypothalamic regulation of feeding, the mechanisms for hypothalamic nutrient sensing are much less clear. Moreover, a causal link between a nutrient sensing defect and obesity remains to be established. The team led by Dr. Cai discovered a novel role of a protein complex, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), in hypothalamic glucose sensing and whole-body energy balance in mice.

HIF is a nuclear transcription factor which induces hypoxia response. When tissue oxygen level is low, HIF is activated to promote cellular metabolic adaption and survival. Recent research has appreciated the involvement of HIF in the metabolism of tumor cells. "However, an intriguing but unexplored question is whether HIF can be important for the regulation of whole-organism metabolism, and if so, which tissue and cells are responsible." says Cai, who is an expert in neuroendocrinology and metabolism.

Cai and his group examined HIF in the hypothalamus and, surprisingly, found that it can be activated by glucose and that this regulation was associated with appetite control in mice. In identifying the cellular and molecular basis, the team found that in response to glucose, HIF acts in a unique group of hypothalamic nutrient-sensing neurons to induce expression of POMC gene -- a gene which has been known to play a key part in hypothalamic control of feeding and body weight. Most excitingly, the team demonstrated the therapeutic potential of targeting hypothalamic HIF to control obesity. By enhancing the hypothalamic HIF activity via gene delivery, mice become resistant to obesity despite the condition of nutritional excess.

"It was an exciting discovery," explains Cai, "Our study is the first to show that beyond its classical oxygen-sensing function in many cells, HIF in the hypothalamic neurons can sense glucose to control the whole-body balance of energy intake and expenditure which is critical for body weight homeostasis." Overall, this study reveals a crucial role for neuronal HIF in bridging the brain's glucose sensing with the brain's regulation of body weight and metabolic physiology. These findings also highlight a potential implication for developing neuronal HIF activators in treating and preventing obesity and related diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hai Zhang, Guo Zhang, Frank J. Gonzalez, Sung-min Park, Dongsheng Cai. Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Directs POMC Gene to Mediate Hypothalamic Glucose Sensing and Energy Balance Regulation. PLoS Biology, 2011; 9 (7): e1001112 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001112

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Treating obesity via brain glucose sensing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110726190057.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, August 1). Treating obesity via brain glucose sensing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110726190057.htm
Public Library of Science. "Treating obesity via brain glucose sensing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110726190057.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) AbbVie announced Wednesday it will buy cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a $21 billion deal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Toddlers Drinking Coffee? Why You Shouldn't Share Your Joe

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) A survey of Boston mothers and toddlers found that 15 percent of two-year-olds drink coffee and 2.5 percent of 1-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins