Characterization of Olfactory Circuits Modulating Energy Homeostasis
Olfactory inputs are important for hedonic evaluation of food, resulting in food choice and possible consumption. Efforts to understand the cellular basis of obesity revealed the crucial role of the hypothalamus as a master regulator of whole-body energy homeostasis, integrating internal and external stimuli to modulate energy intake and expenditure accordingly. Much is known about how internal stimuli such as leptin and ghrelin regulate energy homeostasis. However, how the hypothalamus adjusts circuits regulating energy homeostasis depending on external stimuli, such as smell, remains an intriguing mystery. Our previous work revealed that ablation of olfactory sensory neurons in mice promotes resistance to diet-induced obesity. These findings unravel a new function for the olfactory system in controlling energy homeostasis in response to sensory signals. My aim is to understand how olfaction modulates energy homeostasis and to identify new targets in pre-clinical mouse models for the potential therapeutic development of a drug that will decrease the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, by modulating signal transfer from olfaction to brain regions involved in regulating energy homostasis.