Advisory Board

Professor Dongsheng Cai

The PhysOrg article Research team discovers brain pathway responsible for obesity said

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, for the first time, have found a messaging system in the brain that directly affects food intake and body weight.
Reported in Cell, the findings — from a study in mice — point to a completely new approach to treating and preventing obesity in humans. The discovery also offers hope for new ways to treat related disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases — the most prevalent health problems in the United States and the rest of the developed world.
Led by Dongsheng Cai, an assistant professor of physiology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, the researchers looked specifically at the hypothalamus — the brain structure responsible for maintaining a steady state in the body — and for the first time found that a cell-signaling pathway primarily associated with inflammation also influences the regulation of food intake. Stimulating the pathway led the animals to increase their energy consumption, while suppressing it helped them maintain normal food intake and body weight.

Dongsheng Cai, M.D., Ph.D. is Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dongsheng’s research focuses on investigating the roles of intracellular stress and inflammation pathways for physiological regulation and pathological dysfunction of metabolic homeostasis, with the long-term mission of identifying molecular mechanisms and developing therapeutic avenues for metabolic diseases particularly obesity and diabetes.
An abundance of evidence has emerged demonstrating a close link between metabolism and immunity. The metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes are consistently associated with a state of chronic low-level inflammation, which can be triggered by intracellular metabolic stresses. He has previously identified nuclear transcription factor NF-B and its upstream kinase IKK as an important pro-inflammatory pathway in mediating protein catabolism in skeletal muscle and insulin resistance in liver. This research prelude has initiated an intriguing branch of studying gene-environment interactions in molecular metabolic physiology.
Dongsheng coauthored Local and systemic insulin resistance resulting from hepatic activation of IKK-β and NF-κB, Two New Substrates in Insulin Signaling, IRS5/DOK4 and IRS6/DOK5, IKK-β/NF-κB Activation Causes Severe Muscle Wasting in Mice, Effect of thyroid hormone deficiency on developmental spatial expression of Goa gene in brain of neonatal rat by differential display PCR and in situ hybridization, and Use of Salsalate to Target Inflammation in the Treatment of Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.
Dongsheng earned his M.D. and Ph.D. at Shanghai Jiaotong University, China and did his Postdoctoral studies at Harvard University.