DOCE Director Michael W. Schwartz, MD (MTE) is senior author of a paper published in theJournal of Clinical Investigation that presents the first evidence of structural change in the brain in both rodents and humans associated with diet-induced obesity. DOCE researcher Dr. Josh Thaler, MD, PhD, (MTE), is the first author on the paper entitled ʽObesity Is Associated with Hypothalamic Injury in Rodents and Humansʼ which was published in the January 3rd issue. Other DOCE investigators co-authoring the paper are Stephan J. Guyenet, PhD (MTE), Gregory J. Morton, PhD (MTE), and Brent E. Wisse, MD (MTE).
Along with colleagues from the UW Departments of Medicine and Radiology as well as Yale University and the University of Cincinnati, the group studied the effect of high-fat diet consumption on the brain health of mice and rats. They found evidence of very early and lasting injury to a specific part of the hypothalamus, a brain area critically involved in the regulation of body weight. Similarly, analysis of brain MRIs from a group of healthy people with a wide range of body weights revealed signs of damage to the hypothalamus in the obese subjects. Together, these findings provide a potential explanation for the difficulty in achieving and maintaining weight loss once obesity has become established.
The paper has attracted wide media attention nationally and internationally. Dr. Schwartz was heard on January 3rd on KUOW, and Dr. Thaler on KING5 television December 30, among many other reports.