An enzyme secreted by the body’s fat tissue controls energy levels in the brain, according to new research led by Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, of the School of Medicine. The findings, in mice, underscore a role for the body’s fat tissue in controlling the brain’s response to food scarcity, and suggest there is an optimal amount of body fat for maximizing health and longevity.
Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, is a professor of developmental biology and of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Over the past three decades, his research has shed light on the processes of aging and longevity as he has sought to help people maintain better health into later years.
New research suggests that certain types of brain cells may be “picky eaters,” seeming to prefer one specific energy source over others. The finding has implications for understanding the cognitive decline seen in aging and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
Researchers have identified the mechanism by which a specific sirtuin protein called Sirt1 (shown in green) operates in the brain to bring about a significant delay in aging and an increase in longevity.
Shin-Ichiro Imai, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of developmental biology and of medicine, remains smiling while receiving a 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine Jan. 7 from Melanie Dill, a registered nurse for the Student and Employee Health Services at the School of Medicine. Despite an early morning snowstorm, many faculty, staff and students turned out to receive a vaccine. A vaccine clinic for Danforth Campus faculty, staff and students is planned for early February.