Graduate Training in Neuroscience
University of Washington
Denis G. Baskin
firstname.lastname@example.org - 206-768-5222
Research Professor, Department of Medicine (Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition); Joint, Department of Biological Structure
My research program focuses on the CNS regulation of food intake, body weight, and energy balance by hormones such as insulin and leptin. These hormones, which are present in blood in direct proportion to body fat mass, have a profound anorexic effect when they enter the brain, where they alter the transcription, synthesis, and secretion of peptides (such as neuropeptide Y and melanocortins) in feeding-related neural circuits of the hypothalamus and brainstem. Recent work has focused on the interaction of leptin with the satiety action of peptides such as CCK and GLP-1 produced in the intestines during a meal. These gut peptides signal to the brainstem via the vagus nerve and regulate meal size by causing satiety, thereby resulting in meal termination. In the presence of leptin, these satiety signals to the brain are more effective, resulting in smaller meals. We have used immunocytochemistry, situ hybridization, retrograde axonal transport, confocal microscopy, and laser capture microdissection to identify the neuronal cell types, peptide receptors and circuits that participate in regulating meal size by the action of leptin in the hypothalamus and brainstem and, in particular, the interaction of leptin and gut satiety signals to the hindbrain. The goal of this research is to understand brain mechanisms that regulate food intake and body weight and how these mechanisms are altered in obesity.