Professor Peter Morgan
The brain, and the hypothalamus in particular, plays a key role in the integration of the inputs and outputs controlling major aspects of physiology. This includes the control of food and fluid intake, growth, metabolism, energy balance and reproduction. Great progress has been made in identifying some of the circuits involved in regulating these processes. However, recent work stemming from interests in how environmental cues, such as the light-dark cycle, influence physiology, have revealed new and novel mechanisms of control. These involve localised hormonal circuits of intrahypothalamic thyroid hormone and vitamin A metabolism. How these pathways are regulated, and in turn how they regulate food intake, growth and metabolism, is the major focus of current research. The wider practical benefits of this research will be to understand how diet (eg protein and vitamin A) influences control of food intake, metabolism growth, with both therapeutic and dietary options to influence these being possible. This has obvious relevance to dietary advice and the obesity problem. At the same time the work is also opening up our understanding of brain remodelling and function, which has obvious relevance to a number of brain disorders and diseases.
1: Shearer KD, Goodman TH, Ross AW, Reilly L, Morgan PJ, McCaffery PJ. (2010) Photoperiodic regulation of retinoic acid signaling in the hypothalamus. J. Neurochem.; 112(1):246-57.
2: Ross AW, Johnson CE, Bell LM, Reilly L, Duncan JS, Barrett P, Heideman PD, Morgan PJ (2009). Divergent regulation of hypothalamic neuropeptide Y and agouti-related protein by photoperiod in F344 rats with differential food intake and growth. J. Neuroendocrinol. 21(7):610-9.
3: Barrett P, van den Top M, Wilson D, Mercer JG, Song CK, Bartness TJ, Morgan PJ, Spanswick D. (2009) Short photoperiod-induced decrease of histamine H3 receptors facilitates activation of hypothalamic neurons in the Siberian hamster. Endocrinology. 150(8):3655-63.
4: Hanon EA, Lincoln GA, Fustin JM, Dardente H, Masson-Pévet M, Morgan PJ,Hazlerigg DG. (2008) Ancestral TSH mechanism signals summer in a photoperiodic mammal. Curr Biol. 18(15):1147-52.