Dissertation Defense - Anita Patel

Award Date

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


Gut-brain axis regulation of food intake and visceral illness

Dr. Randy Seeley, Chair

Homeostatic neural mechanisms delicately balance nutritional and feeding states on a minute-to-minute basis.  In doing so, energy input and expenditure are carefully maximized to maintain metabolic needs and prevent shifts in long term body weight. A variety of circulating mediators can activate receptors in the enteric nervous system, the vagus, or directly in the brain to signal peripheral health status in response to ingested compounds. Diverse peripheral signals communicate the state of nutrition, immunity, and energy stores to the brain. As such, central networks create a coordinated response to control ingestive behavior and proper nutrient absorption and protection against harmful toxins are maintained. Under particular stress conditions, changes in energy intake and energy balance result in maladaptive responses. 

This dissertation focuses on examining the roles of glucagon like peptides, growth differentiation factor 15, and bile acids in the regulation of neural feeding networks and weight patterns in pathophysiological states such as systemic infection and obesity. We examine gut to brain signaling using models of diet induced obesity, weight loss surgery, and sepsis. Understanding the complex peripheral and neural signaling, the gut-brain axis, that is necessary to drive behavioral changes of feeding will create therapeutic opportunities to regulate pathological conditions in which energy balance is detrimentally skewed