Insulin activity in the brains of mice acts to translate a high-fat diet into obesity, reports a paper published online this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience. These results provide valuable insight into how a high-calorie diet can affect insulin in the brain, causing changes in metabolism and body weight that often lead to obesity and health problems.
Certain aspects of our daily dietary behavior, including food intake and energy expenditure, are controlled by changes in the levels of circulating proteins such as leptin and insulin.
Jens Bruning and colleagues identified specific brain cells that respond to insulin to promote obesity in mice. When the insulin receptor protein is removed from these neurons, mice show a resistance to weight-gain due to a high-fat diet.