Research Shows Some May Be Wired for Wider Waists

August 5, 2010, University of Cincinnati
Matthias Tschop, MD

(PhysOrg.com) -- Development of obesity may be predetermined by how neurons in the brain are plugged together. New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) shows that the amount of weight gained from eating fatty foods may be decided by the wiring of specific neurocircuitry in the hypothalamus.

The Cincinnati team, along with colleagues from Yale University and Monash University in Australia, has discovered differences in neural circuitry in the hypothalamic regions of otherwise identical rats, which predicted if these rats became obese from tasty high-fat foods. The differences in patterns were found around neurons known to regulate body weight and food intake.

The animal study, led by Matthias Tschop, MD, professor in UC’s endocrinology division, appears this week online ahead of print in (PNAS).

Tschop and his team analyzed neurons of the so-called "melanocortin” system in rats that were either vulnerable or resistant to diet-induced obesity. When exposed to high-fat diets, vulnerable rats lost more synapses (the junctions where neurons send signals to cells) when compared to obesity resistant rats.

The observed pattern, called synaptic plasticity, also included differences in the number of stimulatory signals or inhibitory signals on key neurons known to regulate food intake and body weight. Differences in these patterns predicted if the animals would be resistant to the diet and stay lean, or be vulnerable to the diet and become obese.

"What we found most intriguing is that in response to high-fat diet, rats wired to be sensitive for obesity also showed signs of inflammatory reaction by non-neuronal , a response called reactive gliosis, which is typically seen following ,” says Tschop, a researcher at UC's Metabolic Diseases Institute.

This "inflammation,” Tschop says, occurs alongside or after changes in , and may not be easily reversible.

This new study adds evidence to the currently evolving hypothesis that inflammatory processes in key metabolism control centers of the brain, such as the hypothalamus, may play an important role in the cycle leading from overconsumption of fatty foods to and ultimately to diabetes.

This study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fabric imbued with optical fibers helps fight skin diseases

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers with Texinov Medical Textiles in France has announced that their PHOS-ISTOS system, called the Fluxmedicare, is on track to be made commercially available later this year. The system consists of a piece ...

DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity

February 22, 2018
A research team has discovered the process - and filmed the actual moment - that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Breakthrough could lead to better drugs to tackle diabetes and obesity

February 22, 2018
Breakthrough research at Monash University has shown how different areas of major diabetes and obesity drug targets can be 'activated', guiding future drug development and better treatment of diseases.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.