A Newly Identified Mechanism of Obesity-Induced Pituitary Dysfunction Contributes to Metabolic Dysfunction Associated Fatty Liver Disease

Dr. Norris

Obesity impairs various aspects of pituitary function. Perturbations in the thyroid, growth hormone, gonadal, and adrenal axes are well documented. However, the mechanisms involved are not well understood. Furthermore, it is possible that the pituitary dysfunction induced by obesity might contribute to the medical complications of obesity. Dr. Norris, from our division, recently assisted with new research that begins to address these knowledge gaps. The investigators found that obesity in mice impaired the ability of pituitary cells to activate their cellular unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR is a mechanism that helps protect cells against various stressors. Importantly, when the UPR was disrupted in pituitary cells by genetic manipulation, pituitary dysfunction similar to that in obesity resulted, especially in the thyroid axis. Furthermore, primary genetic UPR disruption in the pituitary resulted in UPR disruption in the liver in a manner that could contribute to fatty liver disease. The work will be published in Cell Metabolism and its abstract is available on PubMed (link). The work was conducted in the lab of Dr. Ling Yang in the F.O.E. Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa.

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