Hormones and Nerves In Sex-Specific Physiology
Biological sex is one of nature's most robust variables. We are leveraging sex differences to discover how hormone-responsive nodes in the brain and peripheral tissues maintain metabolic, skeletal, and cognitive health. Findings from our research program are highly relevant to women's health.
- Project 1: After actively searching for an anabolic factor that keeps bones young and strong in older female mice (Herber, Krause, et al, 2019), we identified a potent osteoanabolic factor that improves bone density in males and females and is used to sustain bones during lactation (Babey, Krause, Herber, et al., 2023). With funding from NIA, we hope to open up new doors for understanding female physiology and treatments for osteoporosis.
- Project 2: After showing how estrogen triggers a pathway in the brain to increase physical activity in females (Krause et al, 2021 - See NYT Article), follow-up studies are aimed at defining this complex neural circuit with projections to the hindbrain. This work is highly relevant to metabolic decline that occurs in natural or drug-induced menopause and is funded by NIDDK and GCRLE.
- Project 3: In a project funded by NIDDK, we have begun to map out gut-brain signaling pathways that exhibit sex-specific differences, which is highly relevant to the higher prevalence of intestinal visceral pain syndromes (IBS) experienced by women. Read our team's new study that defines EC cells as the major driver of gut pain (Bayrer, Castro, et al, 2023).
I also direct the UCSF IRACDA Program funded by NIGMS aimed at training the next generation of scientists in biomedical research.