AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Neurons Anticipate Body's Response to Food and Water

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Using leading-edge technology, neuroscientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) gained new insight into the brain circuitry that regulates water and food intake. In a new study, the team of researchers monitored the activity of the neurons that secrete a hormone in response to ingesting food and water. In their paper, the researchers demonstrated that a subset of neurons starts to prepare the body for an influx of water in the seconds before drinking begins. These neurons help regulate intake by anticipating the effects of drinking from the “top down,” rather than taking cues from the body. “This study supports the view that when we suddenly detect the availability of food or water, our body starts to prepare itself withing seconds for the upcoming bout of eating or drinking,” said co-corresponding author, Mark Andermann, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at BIDMC. “We predict that deficits in this ‘top-down’ control could lead to overshoots in eating or drinking, with many negative consequences.” Andermann and colleagues, including co-corresponding author, Bradford B. Lowell, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at BIDMC, recorded the activity of neurons responsible for releasing the anti-diuretic hormone vasspressin in mice. Vasopressin plays a crucial role regulating the body’s relative concentration of water versus salt after eating or drinking, which could otherwise dramatically alter the mix.

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