April 6, 2021

Indika Rajapakse Publishes in PNAS

Body weight and food intake are tightly controlled by neural circuitry in the brain. Now, a new study from the University of Michigan offers insights into how these circuits operate and respond to feeding and hunger in real-time.

The study focused specifically on one area of the brain that plays a critical role in controlling feeding — the paraventricular nucleus (or PVN) — where neurons express a protein called the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R). The work shows that a newly approved drug for severe obesity, setmelanotide, potently activates these neurons in mice.

“If you think about our social network, for example, our relationships within that network change over time,” explains Indika Rajapakse, Ph.D., an associate professor of mathematics, computational medicine and bioinformatics at U-M, and one of the study’s senior authors. “Likewise, we wanted to identify how neural network patterns change in response to various states of feeding and fasting.”