Posted on Jan 03, 2019, 11 p.m.
According to a new study conducted by a team of global researchers obesity increases the level of semi dormant senescent cells within the brain, which increases anxiety like behaviors; findings have been published in Cell Metabolism.
Obesity has been associated with a prevalence of altered emotional reactivity and cognitive dysfunctions which are risk factors for obesity related systemic health complications. Given the continued growth of the obesity problem researchers have been working to identify dynamic mechanisms that give rise to obesity related neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Mice have been discovered to be genetically engineered to be obese and develop more fat cells in the region of the brain that controls anxiety; these mice also show more senescent cells in this region. Senescent cells have been shown to contribute to several aspects of aging ranging from osteoporosis to diabetes and muscle weakness.
Mice tending to avoid open areas, only moving along outside walls or corners of enclosures, and perform less well in maze testing are deemed to be showing anxious behaviour. Obese mice displayed anxious behaviors in this study that subsided when senescent cells were removed using senolytic drugs, which also resulted in decreased levels of adipocytes in the brain, allowing for normal neurological cell growth to resume; it was noted that removal of senescent cells reduced anxiety levels but the mice remained obese.
According to the researchers findings demonstrates a link between senescence, obesity, and anxiety like behavior providing support for the feasibility of administering senolytics to treat obesity associated anxiety like behavior; however more preclinical research is needed to define the mechanisms of action, and to identify the type of senescent cells involved before clinical trials can be initiated.
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