Hypothalamic Neuron-Glia Interaction
The major interest of our lab is to dissect the molecular mechanism in the hypothalamic neuron-glia interaction in regulation of energy homeostasis, at levels of intercellular communications, intracellular metabolism and organelles interaction.
Not until recently, we gained knowledge that the mechanism under the development of metabolic disease is beyond canonical concept that brain metabolic sensing and regulation is dominated by the role of neurons and pathways controlled by neurons. The microenvironment in which neurons live is supported and maintained by other cells. In this microenvironment, microglia function as the immune homeostatic keeper, by clearance of debris produced by different cells and initiate immune response.
Our recent study showed that with hypercaloric challenge, microglia in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus adopt a proinflammatory-like state, this activation is associated with a functional changes of neuronal network involved in keeping energy balance. At the level of intercellular communications, we aim to delineate specific cellular contacts between each subpopulation of cells, and neurotransmission effects on glial function. We are also interested in understanding the effects of microglia-derived cytokines on neuronal metabolism, especially focusing on mitochondria bioenergetics and dynamics. For translational studies, we are working on postmortem obese and diabetic human brain tissue to check the gene and protein expression profiles in response to diseases and treatments.