Project to Establish How Liver Hormone Inhibits Desire for Sugar and Alcohol

Posted on 07.10.2020

Studies of the hepatic hormone FGF21 in mice are set to provide unique insight into the neural pathways that control the appetite for sugar and alcohol, paving the way for similar studies on humans.

Gaining a better understanding of how the body’s hormones interact and affect each other is an important step on the way to curbing the growing worldwide problem of excess weight, as this knowledge will enable the development of preventive treatment methods for conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

‘The aim of the research project is, first, to identify and characterize the neurons affected by FGF21 in the hypothalamus in mice, and then, in human trials, to study how genetic variation affects the circulating level of active FGF21 and the secretion of FGF21. Our hypothesis is that FGF21 is a hepatoprotective appetite-regulatory hormone induced by the liver’s own alcohol and fructose metabolism, which inhibits excess sugar and alcohol consumption via a specific population of FGF21 receptor-positive neurons in the hypothalamus’, explains Peter Aldiss, who is moving from the UK to Denmark to carry out his research.

Advanced mouse models

In his investigations, which have been awarded DKK 1.8 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy, Peter Aldiss will use new, advanced mouse models and analytical methods in human blood trials to understand how FGF21 affects the craving for sugar and alcohol.

Peter Aldiss brings with him research experience in molecular biology and metabolism, but with this project he will be moving into the field of neurobiology. He will join the team surrounding Associate Professor Matthew Gillum PhD at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen. Gillum has for several years numbered Matthew J. Potthoff of the University of Iowa among his collaborators, and it is thanks to this relationship that Peter Aldriss will go on a study visit to the USA toward the end of the project.

Facts

Peter Aldiss BSc PhD (UK), born 1987

Has been awarded DKK 1.8 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy

Postdoc project title: Dissecting a novel hepatic endocrine circuit that regulates pleasure-seeking and appetite via the central nervous system

Research centres: Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen / University of Iowa, USA

Contact: paldiss@exseed.ed.ac.uk

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