Teen brain differences linked to increased waist circumference — ScienceDaily

Differences in the microstructure of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a region in the brain that plays an important role in processing food and other reward stimuli, predict increases in indicators of obesity in children, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and nine other institutes, all part of the National Institutes of Health. The paper, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. The ABCD Study will follow nearly 12,000 children through early adulthood to assess factors that influence individual brain development and other health outcomes.

Findings from this study provide the first evidence of microstructural brain differences that are linked to waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in children. These microstructural differences in cell density could be indicative of inflammatory processes triggered by a diet

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Boosting the efficiency of single-cell RNA-sequencing helps reveal subtle differences between healthy and dysfunctional cells — ScienceDaily

Sequencing RNA from individual cells can reveal a great deal of information about what those cells are doing in the body. MIT researchers have now greatly boosted the amount of information gleaned from each of those cells, by modifying the commonly used Seq-Well technique.

With their new approach, the MIT team could extract 10 times as much information from each cell in a sample. This increase should enable scientists to learn much more about the genes that are expressed in each cell, and help them to discover subtle but critical differences between healthy and dysfunctional cells.

“It’s become clear that these technologies have transformative potential for understanding complex biological systems. If we look across a range of different datasets, we can really understand the landscape of health and disease, and that can give us information as to what therapeutic strategies we might employ,” says Alex K. Shalek, an associate professor

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Genetic differences in body fat shape men and women’s health risks — ScienceDaily

New research is revealing how genetic differences in the fat in men’s and women’s bodies affect the diseases each sex is likely to get.

University of Virginia researchers Mete Civelek, PhD, Warren Anderson, PhD, and their collaborators have determined that differences in fat storage and formation in men and women strongly affect the activity of 162 different genes found in fat tissue. Further, 13 of the genes come in variants that have different effects in men and women.

Some of those genes identified have already been connected with conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The findings help explain the differing health risks men and women face, and they set the stage for better, more targeted treatments.

“Obesity is associated with a number of health risks, and how men and women store excess calories as fat makes a difference in how they have different susceptibilities to common diseases,”

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