Body fat signals the brain affecting stress and metabolism.

bodyfatThe University of Florida has released a new study specifying that body fat is linked to how the brain deals with stress and . This is the first study to differentiate the fat to brain network and is published in the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal. The network is linked to obesity and the desire to eat more and drives the way the body responds to stress.

The researchers used a mouse model and found that steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids activate their within fat tissue in a way that affects a main component of the metabolic stress response. A unique connection between glucocorticoid signaling in fat tissue and the brain’s regulation of energy balance and stress response was found.

The glucocorticoid receptor in fat tissue can affect the way the brain controls stress and . Initially, such signals from the receptor can be lifesavers, directing the brain to regulate its energy balance and influencing stress responses in a beneficial way. Glucocorticoid signaling is crucial to regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, fat tissue can directly affect functions that link obesity, and stress-related problems.

“It moved our understanding of stress control to include other parts of the body. Before this, everyone thought that the regulation of stress was mainly due to the brain. It’s not just in the brain”, said James Herman, Ph.D., a co-author of the paper and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati. “This study suggests that stress regulation occurs on a much larger scale, including body systems controlling , such as fat,” Herman said.

The scientists have revealed that the stress response in the short term is adaptive and helps people cope with stress. The fat to brain network is a new metabolic pathway linked to an increased stress response affecting obesity, and stress related problems.

“The big question is the nature of that signal to the brain. We need to learn how to go in and break that cycle of stress, eating and weight gain,” Herman said.


Annette D. de Kloet, Eric G. Krause, Matia B. Solomon, Jonathan N. Flak, Karen A. Scott, Dong-Hoon Kim, Brent Myers, Yvonne M. Ulrich-Lai, Stephen C. Woods, Randy J. Seeley, James P. Herman. Adipocyte glucocorticoid mediate fat-to-brain signaling. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015; 56: 110 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.03.008

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