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Vivian Peirce

+44 (0)1223 336786


I am interested in the physiological regulation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity.  BAT can be activated in response to cold exposure or a to high fat diet.  These signals are sensed and integrated in the brain, which also controls BAT thermogenesis via the sympathetic nervous system. It is likely that these two distinct environmental signals use different pathways in the brain to regulate BAT activity.  For example, it is not likely that the neurons that sense environmental and core body temperature also detect changes in diet.  Many other neurons are known to respond to nutrients and appetite hormones, and could signal to BAT pre-motor neurons via a yet-undescribed pathway.  Futhermore, in rodents, cold-exposure increases food intake as well as increasing thermogenesis, a logical homeostatic response to prevent loss of body weight due to increased energy expenditure.  However, in diet-induced thermogenesis, the signal to increase energy expenditure is itself an excess in nutrient availability, and is not associated with an increase in food intake.  Therefore cold-induced and diet-induced thermogenesis have distinct effects on food intake.  My research is focused on understanding the neuronal pathways by which a high fat diet regulates thermogenesis. 
Peirce, V., Vidal-Puig, A., (2013), Regulation of glucose homeostasis by brown adipose tissue. Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology 1(4): 353-360
Whittle, A., Peirce, V., Vidal-Puig, A., (2013), Modelling hypothalamic pathways in diabetes and obesity. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models 10(2): e95-e100
Funding acknowledgements