Functional mapping of gut-brain neurocircuitry in health and obesity

Year of award: 2021


  • Dr Daniel Brierley

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Much of the global population now live in an obesogenic environment, characterised by ready availability of the ultra-processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods comprising the modern 'Western diet'. This diet is a deleteriously effective trigger of the evolutionarily-conserved drive to maximise energy intake during periods of food abundance, leading to the chronic overconsumption driving the obesity epidemic. Overconsumption can be caused by impaired function in the neurobiologically-distinct processes of satiation and/or satiety, which control, respectively, the size and number of meals consumed. Satiation processes are mediated by a poorly-understood interaction of neuronal and hormonal signals within the gut-brain axis, which ultimately elicit meal termination. I will use systems neuroscience techniques in a transgenic mouse model to determine how the gut-brain neurocircuits recruited by Western diet interact to orchestrate meal termination. I will then identify the molecular mechanisms driving dysfunction in this circuitry, to identify new approaches to prevent and treat obesity.