Diabetes Begins in the Brain – The Latest Research Findings at the DGE Congress
The German Center for Diabetes Research Symposium on June 7, 2023, 01:50–03:20 pm
The brain determines whether the metabolism is functioning. If it does not react with sufficient sensitivity to insulin, liver, adipose, and muscle tissues are unable to absorb enough glucose causing an increase in blood sugar levels. This can result in weight gain and type 2 diabetes. At the German Center for Diabetes Research, researchers from the fields of neuroscience and diabetology work closely together. At a fascinating symposium at the 66th German Congress of Endocrinology, from June 5–7 in Baden-Baden, they will shed light on how the central nervous system controls the peripheral energy and glucose balance.
“The parts of the brain that react to insulin are important for food absorption and metabolism. Recent studies show that brain insulin resistance can lead to major metabolic disorders, which can increase the likelihood of obesity and lead to diabetes,” explains DZD spokesperson Prof. Andreas Birkenfeld, who will chair the DZD symposium together with Prof. Baptist Gallwitz from Tübingen. “Our aim is to find precise treatments for those whose brain no longer reacts sufficiently to the metabolic hormone”.
“The congress slogan “Endocrinology: Pure and Interdisciplinary” aims to convey the fact that the field of endocrinology intersects with many other disciplines,” adds DGE congress president and neurosurgeon Prof. Jürgen Honegger from Tübingen. “For this reason, I am delighted that we will highlight the crucial role of the brain in the onset of the widespread disease type 2 diabetes at this congress”.
The Brain Can Also Become Insulin Resistant
DZD researchers have discovered that insulin acts not only in liver, muscle and adipose tissue, but also in the brain. This means that it can influence the metabolism throughout the entire body. This process ensures that energy is stored in the body after food intake and the metabolism is well controlled. Unfortunately, many people suffer from insulin resistance in the brain, which promotes weight gain in the long term. Those affected store fat, especially in the abdomen and liver, increasing their risk of the consequences of diabetes. Prof. Martin Heni provides an overview of new studies showing that brain insulin resistance may be treatable. Both the application of the SGLT2 inhibitor Empagliflozin and regular exercise had a measurable effect on the insulin resistance of the brain.
Neuronal Insulin Resistance Disrupts Energy Production
At the symposium, Prof. André Kleinridders will explain the effects of insulin action on the mitochondria and metabolism in the central nervous system. At the cellular level, insulin increases mitochondrial activity to generate enough energy for the healthy functioning of the nervous system. Correspondingly, neuronal insulin resistance leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, obesity, and cognitive disorders. Conversely, mitochondrial function significantly influences neuronal insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Knowledge of this could contribute to the development of innovative intervention strategies to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as cognitive impairment.
Insulin Affects Men and Women Differently
The effects of insulin in brain regions that are crucial for memory, reward, and cognition differ significantly in men and women. Prof. Stephanie Kullmann and her team discovered that women, especially as they age, begin to display insulin resistance in the hippocampus. The hormonal changes associated with the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle also appear to dampen the effects of insulin in brain regions that are essential for memory and reward processes.
New Insights into the Mechanisms of Action of Polyagonists
Since the causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes stem from in the brain, new drugs aim to target the nervous system. This has become a reality with the development of Polyagoniststhat combine the effects of the body’s own intestinal hormones, such as GLP-1 and GIP, to form highly effective co-antagonists while directly intervening in the brain’s regulation of relevant metabolic processes. GLP-1/GIP Co-agonists reduce body weight more effectively than GLP-1 Mono-agonists, such as semaglutide. But what role do GIP receptors play in the effectiveness of this new class of substance? DZD researcher Prof. Timo Müller and his team studied the mechanisms of action of GIP and GLP-1/GIP Co-agonists and Co-agonists.
DZD Symposium: June 7, 2023, 01:50–03:20 pm
Hormone Action in the Brain and its Effects on the Body’s Metabolism
Prof. Andreas Birkenfeld, DZD Spokesperson
Director of the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases (IDM) of Helmholtz Munich at the University Hospital Tübingen and Chair of Medicine and Director of the Department of Medicine IV - Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nephrology at the University Clinic Tübingen.
Prof. Baptist Gallwitz
Deputy Director of the Department of Medicine IV - Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nephrology at the University Clinic Tübingen.
The Influence of Sex and Age on the Central Endocrine Regulation of Eating Behavior
Prof. Dr. Stephanie Kullmann, Group leader/deputy head of Metabolic Neuroimaging at the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases (IDM) of the Helmholtz Center Munich at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, German Center for Diabetes Research.
Brain Insulin Resistance and its Effects on the Peripheral Organs
Prof. Dr. Martin Heni, Professor of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Ulm University, Head of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes of the Department of Internal Medicine I at Ulm University Medical Center.
Effects of Insulin Action on the Mitochondria and Metabolism of the Central Nervous System
André Kleinridders, University of Potsdam and Head of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Nutritional Medicine at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD)
Mechanisms of Action of the Incretins GLP-1 and GIP and their Multi-Agonists in the Central Nervous System
PD Dr. rer. nat. Timo Müller, Acting Director and Head of the Division of Molecular Pharmacology, Institute for Diabetes and Obesity, German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD)
The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is a national association that brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and combines basic research, translational research, epidemiology and clinical applications. The aim is to develop novel strategies for personalized prevention and treatment of diabetes. Members are Helmholtz Munich – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Munich at the University Medical Center Carl Gustav Carus of the TU Dresden and the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Munich at the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen together with associated partners at the Universities in Heidelberg, Cologne, Leipzig, Lübeck and Munich. www.dzd-ev.de/en