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Insulin resistance and the brain

Project summary

Molecular Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance in the Dorsal Vagal Complex

A specific region of the brain senses insulin levels and sends out signals to the body. Dr Filippi wants to understand how this process can go wrong and why that can increase the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. This could help to develop treatments to restore insulin sensitivity in the brain and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Background to research

The brain collects information from around the body and sends signals to keep blood glucose levels steady. When insulin levels rise, a particular area of the brain, called the Dorsal Vagal Complex (DVC), senses this and sends signals to lower blood glucose levels and tell us to stop eating.

Dr Filippi has discovered that a high fat diet and obesity can stop the DVC from sensing and responding to insulin levels properly. This is called insulin resistance.

Dr Filippi believes that this insulin resistance could further impact on the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Research aims

Dr Filippi plans to study the DVC in rats, to find out which molecules are needed to sense insulin levels and send out signals. She wants to find a way to help the DVC to work properly, so that it’s able to sense and respond to insulin levels.

Dr Filippi will look at how the signals sent from the DVC affect feeding behaviour, to understand how this could be linked to obesity.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

A better understanding of how the brain senses and responds to insulin could help us to improve treatments for people with Type 2 diabetes. Restoring the brain’s ability to sense insulin could also help to prevent obesity and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

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