Modification of the Brain Energy Homeostasis

Project Staff:Prof. Dr. Kerstin M. OltmannsAlina KistenmacherEwelina K. Wardzinski
Dr. med. Georg GohlaJan Christian MartensDr. Uwe H. Melchert

Our research repeatedly showed that there is a close relationship between the energy content of the brain and obesity in humans. Accordingly, overweight is associated with a lowered brain energy status compared with normal weight. The focus of our current basic research is therefore, amongst others, to explore the influenceability of the cerebral energy homeostasis and corresponding changes of peripheral metabolic processes, ingestive behavior, and the regulation of body weight. The following approaches are currently in progress:

  1. We hypothesize that the brain's energy homeostasis is strongly influenced by daily external factors, i.e., stress. Our stress-study aims to investigate by Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) if psychosocial stress is a predictor of food intake patterns and body weight regulation.
  2. Since we could experimentally modulate the brain's energy metabolism by different types of intervention, e.g., transcranial direct current stimulation, which exerted a significant effect on food intake behavior, we examine in further studies whether this effect is due to a change of brain energy caused by stimulation. Cellular energy production depends on sufficient supply of energy substrates (in the brain especially glucose) and different parameters of the energy production process. Therefore, we test different options to modulate the cerebral energy status.
  3. Apart from reduced brain energy levels in spite of increased food intake, overweight is often associated with a deficit of vitamin C in the circulation blood. Cerebral vitamin C uptake, in turn, occurs via the identical mechanism as glucose uptake does, i.e., by facilitated diffusion via GLUT1. Moreover, vitamin C is an important cellular antioxidant and is involved in the production of energy in cells. Thus, this project aims at testing the hypothesis that vitamin C influences the cerebral energy homeostasis.