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Scientists have discovered a previously unknown communication pathway that allows fat cells to directly “talk” to the brain — at least in mice (chuột).
The team visualized these hidden sensory (thuộc giác quan) nerve (dây thần kinh) pathways (đường mòn, đường nhỏ) using a technique that made the animals’ tissue transparent. When the researchers destroyed the connection, the mice burned more fat. That raises the possibility that disrupting this communication network could one day help treat obesity (béo phì), assuming the findings could be replicated in humans.
Previously, researchers knew that the brain used the sympathetic nervous system to tell the body to burn more fat; this branch of the nervous system directs the “fight or flight” response and taps fat as a key fuel source for the body’s organs. In other words, researchers already knew how the brain used neurons to send one-way information to fat. But scientists thought that communication in the other direction–from fat to the brain–was less direct, with fat sending the brain messages by releasing hormones into the bloodstream, study lead author Li Ye, a neuroscientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, told Live Science.
The new study found that fat also sends messages to the brain through sensory nerve cells, or neurons called the dorsal root ganglia. The dorsal root ganglia (DRG), whose cell bodies sit close to the spinal cord, extend long wires into the peripheral organs and thus receive sensory information from the body to send to the brain via the spinal cord (cột sống).
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