Obesity and eating disorders represent a major public health dilemma and key contributor to the burden of chronic disease in the U.S., particularly to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease, and cancer. These disorders are mediated by complex behavioral and metabolic components, each providing opportunity for prevention and treatment. To this end, we are focusing on CNS circuits that regulate food addiction and eating behavior. In particular, we are interested in how neuropeptides such as Neuromedin U and Relaxin 3 modulate midbrain dopamine neurons and impact body weight, food craving, food reward, and food preference. To study these problems, we use an array of techniques including viral-mediated gene knockdown, immunohistochemistry, neuronal tracing, and fluorescent in situ hybridization in animal models of eating behavior and obesity.
Hommel, J.D., Trinko, R., Georgescu, D., Sears, R.M., Georgescu D., Liu, Z.W., Gao,X.B., Thurmon, J.J., Marinelli, M. and R.J. DiLeone (2006) Leptin signals directly to midbrain dopamine neurons to regulate feeding. Neuron, 51(6):801-10.
Green, T., Alibhai, I., Hommel, J.D., DiLeone, R.J., Kumar, A., Theobald, D.E., Neve, R.L., and E.J. Nestler (2006) Induction of ICER Expression in Nucleus Accumbens by Stress or Amphetamine Increases Behavioral Responses to Emotional Stimuli. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26(32):8235-42.
Georgescu, D., Sears, R.S., Hommel, J.D, Barrot, M., Bolaños, C.A., Marsh, D.J., Bednarek, M.A., Bibb, J.A., Maratos-Flier E., Nestler, E.J., and R.J. DiLeone (2005) The hypothalamic neuropeptide MCH acts in the nucleus accumbens to modulate feeding behavior and forced-swim performance. The Journal of Neuroscience 25(11): 2933–2940.
Hommel, J.D., Sears, R.M., Georgescu, D., Simmons, D.L., and R. J. DiLeone (2003) Local gene knockdown in the brain using viral-mediated RNA interference. Nature Medicine 9(12): 1539-1544.
Mohammad, M., York, R.D., Hommel, J.D., and G.M. Kapler, (2003) Characterization of a novel ORC-like complex: implications for DNA recognition, cell cycle control, and locus-specific gene amplification. Molecular and Cellular Biology (14):5005-17.