Molecular mechanisms in body weight regulation

Reducing food intake to achieve weight loss or maintain a healthy weight is the objective many people.  One route to achieving a reduction in food intake is to increase the satiety value (feeling of fullness) of the food we eat. My research is investigating the interaction of protein, carbohydrate and fats on release of gut hormones involved in signalling satiety to the brain with a view to formulating food products with an increased satiety value.
The research we are doing will help in the formulation of food products to control food intake

Research Focus

Food intake and growth are areas of research interest being undertaken in my laboratory. Food intake research is in the context of obesity and relevant to health. The aim is to further understand the mechanisms which induce satiety (feeling of being full) as a meal is eaten. In particular we are investigating how nutrients in the food we eat engage sensory mechanisms in the gut to relay a signal to the brain that enough food has been consumed and thereby to stop further food intake. This research is working towards a level of understanding whereby it may be possible to reformulate food to induce satiety at with less calories of food consumed. Such an approach may provide a solution to reducing the rising tide of global human obesity.

Seasonal regulation of food intake together with growth (which encompasses body weight regulation in general) are areas of research we undertake in the context of understanding how physiology adapts to an environment where photoperiod varies by a considerable length over the course of a year. The research aims to understand neuronal and hormonal mechanisms that regulate mammalian seasonal physiological adaptions, which can involve changes in body weight encompassing both lean and fat tissue. The aim is to provide further insight into physiological process that are important in human health and disease.

Research team

Nikki Cassie - PhD student (funded by Full4Health)

  • 2014-2017 BBSRC
  • EU Full4Heath 2011-2016
  • Eli Lilly 2011-2013
  • Cassie, N., Anderson, RL., Wilson, D., Pawsey, A., Mercer, JG. & Barrett, P. 'Body weight loss, effective satiation and absence of homeostatic neuropeptide compensation in male Sprague Dawley rats schedule fed a protein crosslinked diet'. Appetite, vol 117, pp. 234-246.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.06.029
  • Bank, JHH., Cubuk, C., Wilson, D., Rijntjes, E., Kemmling, J., Markovsky, H., Barrett, P. & Herwig, A. (2017). 'Gene expression analysis and microdialysis suggest hypothalamic triiodothyronine (T3) gates daily torpor in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)'. Journal of Comparative Physiology. B, Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology, vol 187, no. 5-6, pp. 857-868.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1007/s00360-017-1086-5
  • Bank, JHH., Wilson, D., Rijntjes, E., Barrett, P. & Herwig, A. (2017). 'Alternation between short- and long photoperiod reveals hypothalamic gene regulation linked to seasonal body weight changes in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)'. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol 29, no. 7, pp. 1-11.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/jne.12487
  • Lewis, JE., Brameld, JM., Hill, P., Cocco, C., Noli, B., Ferri, G-L, Barrett, P., Ebling, FJP. & Jethwa, PH. (2017). 'Hypothalamic over-expression of VGF in the Siberian hamster increases energy expenditure and reduces body weight gain'. PloS one, vol 12, no. 2, e0172724.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172724
    [Online] AURA: Hypothalamic_over_expression_of_VGF_in_the_Siberian_hamster_...
  • Dumbell, R., Petri, I., Scherbarth, F., Diedrich, V., Schmid, HA., Steinlechner, S. & Barrett, P. (2017). 'Somatostatin agonist pasireotide inhibits exercise stimulated growth in the male Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus)'. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol 29, no. 1, pp. 1-11.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1111/jne.12448
  • Johannessen, H., Revesz, D., Kodama, Y., Cassie, N., Skibicka, KP., Barrett, P., Dickson, SL., Holst, JJ., Rehfeld, JF., van der Plasse, G., Adan, RAH., Kulseng, B., Ben-Menachem, E. & Chen, D. (2017). 'Vagal Blocking for Obesity Control: a Possible Mechanism-Of-Action'. Obesity Surgery, vol 27, no. 1, pp. 177-185.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1007/s11695-016-2278-x10.1007/s11695-016-2370-2
Additional Activities

Policy Briefings for the Knowledge Scotland web site