Nav: Home

Obese mice lose anxiety when 'zombie cells' exit their brain

January 03, 2019

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators have shown in mice that obesity increases the level of "zombie" or senescent cells in the brain, and that those cells, in turn, are linked to anxiety. When senolytic drugs are used to clear those cells, the anxious behaviors in the mice dissipate. These findings appear in Cell Metabolism.

Senscent cells are just as the name zombie implies - semidormant cells that remain in a given area of the body and, by doing so, impair other functions. Research has shown that they contribute to aspects of aging, from osteoporosis to diabetes and muscle weakness. In this case, researchers knew that obesity -- in both humans and mice -- is related to increased anxiety and other emotional issues. Yet the details of that relationship are unclear.

Using genetically modified mice and normal mice, the team, which included researchers from the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and the University of Newcastle, as well as others, determined that the study mice developed more fat cells in the brain area that controls anxiety and they had a significant increase of senescent cells in that region. Clearing the cells with senolytic drugs in the two mouse models resulted in anxious behavior ending; lipid cells in the brain disappearing; and neurogenesis, or normal neurological cell growth, resuming.

How do you tell if a mouse has anxiety? A number of scientifically validated tests are used. An anxious mouse tends to avoid open areas in its environment, and tends to move only along the outside walls or corners of its enclosure. Also, anxious mice behave differently in mazes, performing poorly and with hesitation, often not completing the test. After removal of the zombie cells, the mice did much better even though they were still obese.

In their paper the authors say, "Our data demonstrating a link between obesity, senescence and anxietylike behavior provide critical support for the potential feasibility of administering senolytics to treat obesity-associated anxietylike behavior, provided that clinical trials validate this approach."

They say more preclinical research is needed, as well, to determine which type of senescent cells are responsible and define the mechanism of action more fully.

Support for the research came from Cancer Research UK, a Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Fellowship, The Academy of Medical Sciences, The Connor Group, the National Institutes of Health, the Glenn/American Federation for Aging Research Breakthroughs in Gerontology award, Robert and Theresa Ryan, The Ted Nash Long Life and Noaber Foundations, Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, and Humor the Tumor.

Researchers include first author Mikolaj Ogrodnik, Ph.D., and senior authors Diana Jurk, Ph.D., formerly of University of Newcastle and now at Mayo Clinic, and James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic. The team also included researchers from Stony Brook University, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, and the Near East University, Cyprus.
-end-
About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, comprehensive care to everyone who needs healing. Learn more about Mayo Clinic. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Mayo Clinic

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
How does the environment affect obesity?
Researchers will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly.
Obesity Day to highlight growing obesity epidemic in Europe
The growing obesity epidemic, which is predicted to affect more than half of all European citizens by 2030, will be the focus of European Obesity Day to be held on May 21.
Understanding obesity from the inside out
Researchers developed a new laboratory method that allowed them to identify GABA as a key player in the complex brain processes that control appetite and metabolism.
Epigenetic switch for obesity
Obesity can sometimes be shut down.
Immunological Aspects of Obesity
This FASEB Conference focuses on the interactions between obesity and immune cells, focusing in particular on how inflammation in various organs influences obesity and obesity-related complications.

Related Obesity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...