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Regulation of the blood-brain barrier in health and metabolic disorders

In the year 2000, the World Health Organization declared obesity a 21st century epidemic. About 40% of the world population is suffering from obesity and diabetes, which are responsible for roughly 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

The brain significantly contributes to these pathologies. It is isolated from the peripheral blood circulation by a barrier that protects it from harmful substances (infectious or inflammatory agents) and prevents excessive fluctuations in the levels of circulating molecules. However, a few specialized brain cells located in the hypothalamus, known as tanycytes, are not fully isolated from peripheral circulation and can therefore sense the composition of the blood. Tanycytes are believed to respond to circulating molecules by controlling vital functions such as food intake and energy metabolism. Failure of these cells to sense the composition of the blood (such as the presence of glucose and hormones) may lead to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

This project will examine how tanycytes modulate the access of peripheral metabolic hormones into the central nervous system. Findings will provide insights on the pathophysiology of obesity and type 2 diabetes and their interaction with systemic inflammation induced by infection. This project was selected for funding during the first research competition of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program – Phase II. The program is a partnership between IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Israel Science Foundation and the Azrieli Foundation.

Project ID
Project Status
48 months
IDRC Officer
Fabiano Santos
Total Funding
CA$ 822,632.00
Institution Country
The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University
Institution Country
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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