The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a recessive neurodegenerative disease, is characterized by the selective loss of spinal motor neurons. No available therapy exists for SMA, which represents one of the leading genetic causes of death in childhood. SMA is caused by a mutation of the survival-of-motor-neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, leading to a quantitative defect in the survival-motor-neuron (SMN) protein expression. All patients retain one or more copies of the SMN2 gene, which modulates the disease severity by producing a small amount of stable SMN protein.
The insulin signaling pathway regulates whole-body glucose homeostasis by transducing extracellular signals from the insulin receptor (IR) to downstream intracellular targets, thus coordinating a multitude of biological functions. Dysregulation of IR or its signal transduction is associated with insulin resistance, which may culminate in type 2 diabetes. Following initial stimulation of IR, insulin signaling diverges into different pathways, activating multiple substrates that have roles in various metabolic and cellular processes.
Intermittent fasting (IF; reduced meal frequency) and caloric restriction (CR) extend lifespan and increase resistance to age-related diseases in rodents and monkeys and improve the health of overweight humans. Both IF and CR enhance cardiovascular and brain functions and improve several risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke including a reduction in blood pressure and increased insulin sensitivity. Cardiovascular stress adaptation is improved and heart rate variability is increased in rodents maintained on an IF or a CR diet.
Changes in fat content have been associated with dietary restriction (DR), but whether they play a causal role in mediating various responses to DR remains unknown. We demonstrate that upon DR, Drosophila melanogaster shift their metabolism toward increasing fatty-acid synthesis and breakdown, which is required for various responses to DR. Inhibition of fatty-acid synthesis or oxidation genes specifically in the muscle tissue inhibited life-span extension upon DR. Furthermore, DR enhances spontaneous activity of flies, which was found to be dependent on the enhanced fatty-acid metabolism.
Clinical trials and epidemiological studies have suggested that dietary fish oil (FO) supplementation can provide an anti-arrhythmic benefit in some patient populations. The underlying mechanisms are not entirely clear. We wanted to understand how FO supplementation (for 4 weeks) affected the action potential configuration/duration of ventricular myocytes, and the ionic mechanism(s)/molecular basis for these effects. The experiments were conducted on adult rabbits, a widely used animal model for cardiac electrophysiology and pathophysiology.
Mild, mitochondrial uncoupling increases energy expenditure and can reduce the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Activation of cellular, adaptive stress response pathways can result in an enhanced capacity to reduce oxidative damage. Together, these strategies target energy imbalance and oxidative stress, both underlying factors of obesity and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Here we describe a metabolomics-driven effort to uncover the anti-obesity mechanism(s) of xanthohumol (XN), a prenylated flavonoid from hops.