Dept.: VA Senior Research Career Scientist; Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences(VA); Adjunct, Department of Psychology; Adjunct, Medicine Concurrent
Neuroscience Focus Groups:
A second project of the lab is the investigation of altered CNS activity in a clinically important syndrome, hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure (HAAF). This syndrome has been identified in diabetic patients who self-administer insulin frequently in order to maintain their blood sugar levels within the normal range. Because this is, at best, an imperfect approach to the regulation of blood sugar, patients experience numerous episodes of low blood sugar, or ‘hypoglycemia’. These frequent bouts lead to the loss of activation of the normal protective neuroendocrine response. We are investigating the hypothesis that CNS centers which regulate the activation of several arms of the neuroendocrine response (e.g., the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex) are vulnerable to the repeated bouts of low blood sugar and ultimately do not become appropriately activated. We have mapped forebrain activation in response to experimentally induced hypoglycemia (c-fos measurement) and identified areas which do not activate in response to multiple bouts of hypoglycemia. Current studies are now focusing on afferent inputs to these vulnerable CNS areas in order to elucidate specific mechanisms by which their activation is impaired.