Postdoc Fellowships 2023 - Project 2

Project title: Somatosensory networks control glucose homeostasis


Principal Investigator

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Alessandro Furlan

Assistant Professor

Research Project

Somatosensory networks control glucose homeostasis

While it is acknowledged that the brain is an important regulator of blood glycemia, a crucial role for the peripheral nervous system in the control of homeostasis is emerging. The pancreas is densely innervated by the somatosensory nervous system, but the anatomical organization and function of these circuits are not fully understood. We hypothesize that these networks are key components of an unexplored, peripheral regulatory unit controlling glucose homeostasis. Our objective is to identify and interrogate the somatosensory networks innervating the pancreas, in mice, with an interdisciplinary strategy, drawing methods from the fields of neuroscience and physiology. The postdoc will first map and interrogate the molecular architecture of these circuits. The postdoc will then use transgenic mice and a viral-based strategy to ablate pancreas-innervating somatosensory neurons during homeostasis (normoglycemic, lean mice) and disease (obese, diabetic mice), and assess changes in behavior, glucose metabolism, and gene expression of pancreatic tissue, in mice with an intact or ablated peripheral system. We anticipate that the results of this study will change our understanding of how glucose homeostasis is achieved and establish somatosensory neurons as a novel site for anti-diabetic therapy.

Project description

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Content reviewer:
Stefan Nobel