Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso have mapped brain regions that are activated by changes in blood sugar levels, offering the potential for targeted therapies for conditions such as diabetes. The 13-year study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, identifies specific cell populations that respond to rapid glucose fluctuations.
Dr. Arshad M. Khan and his team from UTEP, including doctoral student Geronimo Tapia, conducted a decade-long study based on previous USC research. They discovered potential glucose-sensitive cell populations in the brain and mapped their locations in an open-access brain atlas.
The findings contribute to global brain mapping and understanding of cellular responses to blood sugar in diabetic patients, according to Dr. Khan.
Researchers at UTEP have identified the brain region responsible for detecting changes in blood sugar levels. This discovery could lead to new treatments for diabetes and other conditions that affect blood sugar levels.
Jessica Salcido Padilla, a UTEP graduate student from the Khan lab and co-author of the study, said: “This research is very important in our border region because there is a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes in our communities. Our goal is to identify where certain processes take place in the brain so that we can develop therapies, technologies or drugs that help.”
The research team, led by Dr. Khan, used a new method to monitor blood sugar changes in the brain in real time. They found that the locus coeruleus, a brain region that produces norepinephrine, is one of the first regions to respond to changes in blood sugar.
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in arousal, attention and the body’s stress response. The researchers believe the locus coeruleus may play a role in alerting the brain to dangerous changes in blood sugar levels.
This discovery could lead to new treatments for diabetes and other conditions that affect blood sugar levels. For example, doctors could use this information to develop new drugs that target the locus coeruleus to help people with diabetes better control their blood sugar levels.
- Geronimo P. Tapia, Lindsay J. Agostinelli, Sarah D. Chenausky et al. Glycemic challenge is associated with the rapid cellular activation of the locus ceruleus and core of the solitary channel: circumscribed spatial analysis of phosphorylated MAP kinase immunoreactivity. Clinical medicine. DOI: 10.3390/jcm12072483