Atlanta was the place to be last week for obesity researchers and doctors. Over 20 University of Georgia faculty and students joined researchers and health professionals from around the world at ObesityWeek, a conference that joined the annual meetings of The Obesity Society and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Nearly 25 UGA researchers – both faculty members and graduate students – attended the conference. Some even presented their own obesity-related findings. Plant compounds, or phytochemicals, were the focus of several of these obesity research projects.
One project suggested phytochemicals might prevent weight gain by causing certain fat cells to work harder. Colette Miller, a graduate student in the foods and nutrition department, presented research on phytochemicals and brown adipose tissue, a type of fat that uses energy to provide heat. Miller’s findings suggested a combination of phytochemicals could cause these fat cells to work harder in rats, potentially preventing weight gain. Her poster was entitled “Dietary Phytochemicals Increase Brown Adipose Tissue Activity in Adult Ovariectomized Rats.”
Phytochemicals may also fight obesity by affecting the brain. Damage to an area of the brain called the hippocampus can result in irregular eating behaviors. Some phytochemicals, such as genistein, can help protect the brain from damage. Emily England, a graduate student in UGA’s interdisciplinary neuroscience Ph.D. program, presented research comparing the effects on rats of a phytochemical combination with genistein alone. Her poster, entitled “Genistein Enhances Expression of Genes Associated with Memory and Eating Behaviors in the Ventral Hippocampus of Ovariectomized Rats” showed the combination to be no more beneficial than genistein alone.
See below for the titles of other research projects by UGA faculty and students that were presented at the conference:
“Osteogenic and Anti-Adipogenic Effects of Guggulsterone in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells” - Srujana Rayalam, Suwanee, GA; Jeong Yeh Yang, MaryAnne Della-Fera, Clifton A. Baile, Athens, GA
“Phloretin Prevents, but Not Reverses High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity and Hepatic Steatosis in Mice” - Sary Alsanea, Mingming Gao, Dexi Liu, Athens, GA
“Chlorogenic Acid Suppresses High Fat Diet-Induced Inflammation and Hepatic Steatosis” – Yongjie Ma, Mingming Gao, Dexi Liu, Athens, GA
“Affinity Tagging of Adipocyte Nuclei in Mice to Examine Epigenetic Controls in Obesity” – Richard Meagher, Suresh Ambati, Elizabeth C. McKinney, Clifton A. Baile, Athens, GA
“Isolated Nuclei for the Cell-Type Specific Analysis of Neurons and Adipocytes” - Richard Meagher Athens, GA; Eric B. Dammer, Nicholas Seyfried Atlanta, GA; Clifton A. Bail, Athens, GA
“Simplified WBC Type-Specific Isolation for Epigenetics on Obesity” - Natalie Hohos, Deanna Shade, Diane Hartzell, MaryAnne Della-Fera, Richard Meagher, Clifton A. Baile, Athens, GA
“Exercise Benefits on Cognition Vary by COMT Genotype and Sex in Overweight Children” - Cynthia Krafft Athens, GA; Jennifer L. Waller, Haidong Zhu, Norman K. Pollock, Jacob Looney, Celestine Williams, Augusta, GA; Jennifer McDowell, Athens, GA; Catherine L. Davis, Augusta, GA
“Genetic Variation in Neural Signaling Pathways and Exercise Adherence in the TIGER Study” - Molly S. Bray Austin, TX; Matthew P. Herring Birmingham, AL; Mary H. Sailors Houston, TX; Rodney K. Dishman, Athens, GA; Daniel P. O’Connor, Andrew S. Jackson Houston, TX
“Rutin Suppresses Palmitic Acids-Triggered Inflammation in Macrophages and Blocks High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity and Fatty Liver in Mice” – Mingming Gao, Yongjie Ma, Dexi Liu, Athens, GA
“Under The Radar: The Skinny on Obesity in Normal Weight First Year College Women” - Michael V. Fedewa, Bhibha M. Das, Michael D. Schmidt, Ellen M. Evans, Athens, GA
“Dietary phytochemicals reduce hepatic lipogenesis and lipotoxicity in the post-menopausal rat model” - Tucker Avra, Colette Miller, Suresh Ambati, Erica Bass, Natalie Hohos, Emily England, Diane Hartzell, MaryAnne Della-Fera, Athens GA; Srujana Rayalam, Suwanne, GA; Clifton Baile, Athens, GA