How brain hormones affect fat

JUSTIN HEWLETT, MNHS MULTIMEDIA, MONASH UNIVERSITYInsulin and leptin activate appetite-suppressing proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the mouse brain that promote the conversion of “bad” white fat to “good” beige fat, investigators from Monash University in Australia and their colleagues showed in Cell this week (January 15).

“The authors show that [insulin and leptin] directly interact in the brain to produce nervous-system signaling both to white and brown adipose tissue,” said Jan Nedergaard, a professor of physiology at Stockholm University who was not involved in the work. “This is a nice demonstration of how the acute and chronic energy status talks to the thermogenic tissues.”

Study coauthor Garron Dodd of Monash suggested his team’s results could have implications for treating humans. The findings, he said, are “really exciting as, perhaps, resistance to the actions of leptin and insulin in POMC neurons is a key feature underlying...

Balancing vaccination and immunity

WIKIMEDIA, BIGGISHBENRagon Institute researchers investigating the effects of vaccines that exclusively elicit a T helper cell response in mice found that, once infected with lymphocytic cytomegalovirus, the animals suffered uncontrolled inflammation, multiple organ failure, and death. Their results were published in Science this week (January 15).

“It’s an important cautionary message that in any kind of vaccination one needs to consider the likelihood of getting a balanced immune response,” immunologist Dan Littman of New York University Langone Medical Center who was not involved in the work told The Scientist.

“Immunity works as a system and what [the researchers] have been able to show is that when one tweaks only a single component, it can lead to quite detrimental results,” said immunologist Bruce Walker, who directs the Ragon Institute but was not involved in the work.

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