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Research Departments >Functional and Systems Neurobiology department > Neuroendocrinology Laboratory> Research Report

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Neuroendocrinology Laboratory

Summary

Role of Insulin/Insulin like growth factor I in neuronal plasticity and degenerative diseases/ Therapeutic targets in neurodegeneration/ The aging brain and cognition

Research

Our lab is interested in the neurobiology of insulin peptides, multimodal neuroprotective factors of great relevance in brain homeostasis and consequently, in neurodegenerative diseases. We propose IGF-I as a prototype neuroprotective factor that intimately interacts with insulin functions at brain level.
Targeting IGF-I and insulin may help gain greater insight into endogenous neuroprotective processes, eventually allowing us to mimic/stimulate them with novel therapeutics. Using this approach we have found new mechanisms of neuroprotection as well as new therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative illnesses.
Importantly, our work led us to propose that loss of IGF-I input to the brain (and in all likelihood also of insulin), due to resistant or deficient states underlies many, if not all, neurodegenerative processes.
A novel finding from our lab,that we consider of great relevance in furthering our understanding of the neurobiogy of this growth factor is that blood-borne IGF-I enters into the brain through tonic and regulated pathways. We have found a concerted action of IGF-I and insulin in the regulation of brain glucose handling.
We are currently analyzing the cellular and molecular pathways of the Insulin/IGF-I dyad whereby life-style factors (physical exercise, stress, diet, social engagement...etc) modulate neuroprotection by these hormones. We use a multidisciplinary approach from the molecular underpinnings to physiological function.



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