The Buettner Laboratory for Metabolism and Diabetes focuses on understanding how the hypothalamus senses hormones and nutrients and how this process in turn regulates nutrient partitioning. Specifically, we aim to delineate the role of insulin, leptin and endocannabinoids in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism in liver and adipose tissue.
In rodent models of obesity and type 2 diabetes this brain control of metabolism is impaired and we believe that this dysfunction plays an important role in the pathogenesis of both of these conditions. Interestingly, diabetes and obesity are associated with a pro-inflammatory state. We have found that hormones like insulin and leptin regulate systemic inflammation via the brain and the autonomic nervous system and speculate that this may be the basis for the link between impaired metabolic control and inflammation.
A commonly used approach in our lab is to study nutrient fluxes with clamp studies combined with metabolic tracers in rodents, which we complement with molecular studies like protein expression and signaling analysis.