Suraj Unniappan, associate professor in York's Department of Biology, Faculty of Science & Engineering, is delving into the metabolic effects of a protein called nesfatin-1, abundantly present in the brain. His studies found that rats administered with nesfatin-1 ate less, used more stored fat and became more active. In addition, the protein stimulated insulin secretion from the pancreatic beta cells of both rats and mice.
"[The rats] actually ate more frequently but in lesser amounts," says Unniappan, a member of York's neuroscience graduate diploma program, and a recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award. "In addition, they were more active and we found that their fatty acid oxidization was increased. In other words, the energy reserve being preferably used during nesfatin-1 treatment was fat. This suggests more fat loss, which could eventually result in body weight loss," he says.
The findings were reported in two recent research articles from Unniappan's laboratory: one published today in Endocrinology and another in March 2011 in Journal of Endocrinology.
Discovered by a research team from Japan in 2006, nesfatin-1 was earlier found to regulate appetite and the production of body fat when injected into the brain of mice and rats.
Unniappan's findings indicate that the protein stimulates insulin secretion from the pancreas, a glandular organ, which contains clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans. These islets produce several important hormones, including the primary glucose-lowering hormone, insulin.
Previously, Unniappan's team studied mice and found similar results; not only was insulin secretion stimulated, but nesfatin-1 was observed to be lowered in the pancreatic islets of mice with Type 1 diabetes and increased in those with Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body no longer produces insulin due to the destruction of cells within the pancreas. In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes insulin resistant, and obesity often results.
Unniappan's research, conducted in the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroendocrinology, focuses on identifying and examining the biological effects of gut and brain-derived appetite-regulatory and metabolic hormones in fish and mammals.
"We call this the 'gut-brain axis,'" says Unniappan. "While the brain is involved in many factors that regulate our energy balance, the gut is also responsible for many neural and endocrine signals responsible for regulating hunger, satiety and blood sugar levels. A major question we're trying to address is how these peptides act and interact with other peptides in the endocrine network – which is so complex – in order to maintain steady blood glucose levels and body weight," he says.
A better understanding of this gut-brain axis could contribute to developing potential pharmacological interventions for diabetes and obesity.
"New hormone-based treatments that would suppress body weight and blood sugar would be very desirable. However, we are far from developing nesfatin-1 as a candidate molecule. Our current research focuses on further exploring the therapeutic potential of nesfatin-1 in metabolic diseases with debilitating complications," Unniappan says.
The lead author of both publications is Ronald Gonzalez, a recently graduated PhD student from Unniappan's lab. The research was conducted in close collaboration with co-authors and York professors Robert Tsushima and Rolando Ceddia. Unniappan's research is supported by grants from CIHR, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and the James H. Cummings Foundation.
York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada's most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York's 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.
Please note: Professor Unniappan is out of the country and currently available for e-mail or Skype interviews only.
Melissa Hughes, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22097, email@example.com
Melissa Hughes | EurekAlert!
Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy