Scientific highlights

27.05.2021

Hypothalamic vascular remodelling in obesity

In a recent publication in Cell Metabolism, scientists from the IDO Research Unit "Astrocyte-Neuron Networks" reveal that astrocytes, a long-neglected type of brain cells, govern the organization of blood vessels in the hypothalamus depending on body fat stores.

Graphical abstract

With this study, Tim Gruber, Cristina García-Cáceres and colleagues demonstrate for the first time that astrocytes sense increased levels of the adipose hormone leptin what in turn triggers microvascular remodeling specifically in the hypothalamus in a HIF1a-VEGF dependent manner.

Intriguingly, these leptin-induced gliovascular perturbations at the blood-brain barrier were found to be paramount for the development of obesity-associated hypertension and cardiovascular disease. 

In sum, this work unravels these star-shaped cells as important orchestrators of physiology and highlights a novel mechanism in the central control of blood pressure.

Further information: www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00511-3

Link to the IDO Research Unit "Astrocyte-Neuron Networks": https://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/ido/research/neuroscience/astrocyte-neuron-networks/main-projects/index.html