Hypothalamus is a brain region known to regulate basic life functions, such as growth, development, reproduction, and is critically involved in feeding, glucose homeostasis and metabolism. The hypothalamic neurons are capable to sense energy and peripheral signals (glucose, insulin, leptin), modifying energy status accordingly. On the other hand, caloric restriction (CR), a robust anti-aging intervention known to delay aging in different animal species, is sensed by the hypothalamus. Evidence suggests that the integrity of metabolic sensing mechanisms in hypothalamic neurons is crucial for maintaining metabolic homeostasis and normal aging. It was also showed that decreasing hypothalamic inflammation extends rodent lifespan and reduces a wide range of central and peripheral age-related impairments (Zhang et al Nature 2013). It is therefore exciting to suggest that hypothalamic neurons could drive aging and age-related diseases.
The group “Neuroendocrinology and Aging” will focus its research on the hypothalamus as an underlying mediator and a target for interventional strategies in counteracting ageing and related diseases.
The group is composed of investigators who develop complementary and convergent approaches to this theme. The interdisciplinary expertise of the group, varying from molecular biology, cell biology, animal behavior, inflammation mechanisms, metabolism and the already established collaborations with investigators of other groups of CNC.IBILI consortium will contribute to progress the research with an innovative approach. The group will have 4 main subjects of research:
1. Targeting the hypothalamus as a new strategy to delay aging
Team: Claudia Cavadas (PhD), Célia Aveleira (PhD), Joana Rosmaninho-Salgado (PhD); Armando Cristovão (PhD); Antonio Pedro Gomes (PhD), Ana Rita Álvaro (PhD); Ana Santos-Carvalho (PhD) Bruno Carreira (PhD), Mariana Rocha (PhD student), Sara Silva (PhD student), Marisa Marques (PhD student); International advisors: Carlos Lopez-Otin; Tamas Horvath.
2. MicroRNAs in hypothalamus in obesity and aging
Team: Lígia Sousa-Ferreira, Ana Patrícia Marques (PhD student), Joana Rosmaninho-Salgado (PhD); Cláudia Cavadas (PhD)
3. Hypoxia and obesity induces hypothalamic changes: a link to ageing
Team: Ana Patrícia Marques (PhD student), Joana Rosmaninho-Salgado (PhD); Cláudia Cavadas (PhD); with the international advisor Licio Velloso
4. Caloric restriction (CR) and CR mimetics to block neurodegerative diseaseMachado-Joseph disease (MJD) progression
Team: Joana Neves (PhD student), Janete Santos (PhD student); Cláudia Cavadas (PhD); a join project with Luís Pereira de Almeida; International advisor: Leonard Guarantee.