Maia Kokoeva, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Dr Maia Kokoeva completed her undergraduate studies at the
Department of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University and obtained her PhD degree from the
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. During her first postdoctoral fellowship at the
Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried/Munich, Germany, under the
supervision of Dr Dieter Oesterhelt, she investigated sensory signal transduction
in the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. By employing molecular genetic techniques
in conjunction with behavioral analysis, she uncovered the signaling pathways that
mediate the chemotactic responses to a variety of chemical attractants including
several amino acids. She then joined the laboratory of Dr Jeffrey Flier at Harvard
Medical School to continue her postdoctoral training with a focus on central
regulation of energy balance in the mammals. Dr Kokoeva was intrigued by the
observation that obese rodents and humans treated with the neuropeptide ciliary
neurotrophic factor (CNTF) show a reduction in body weight that is sustained well
beyond termination of treatment, a phenomenon not seen with any other weight
lowering drug. In an attempt to elucidate the mechanistic basis for this effect,
she discovered that CNTF potently stimulates neurogenesis in adult hypothalamic
structures that are important for the regulation of energy balance. These findings
indicate that neuronal circuits in the adult hypothalamus are not hard-wired and
that plastic changes can have a long-lasting impact on a brain circuitry. Dr Kokoeva
was appointed Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicine of McGill University
in summer 2008.
Click here for pdf CV
Selected Scientific Contributions
1- Kokoeva MV, Yin H, Flier JS. Evidence
for constitutive neural cell proliferation in the adult murine hypothalamus.
J Comp Neurol 505:209-220, 2007.
2- Shi H, Kokoeva MV, Inouye K, Tzameli I, Yin H,
Flier JS. Toll like receptor 4: A link between innate immunity and fatty
acid-induced insulin resistance. J Clin Invest 116:3015-25, 2006.
This paper was the subject of "News and Views" and "Preview"
- Tschop M and Thomas M. Fat fuels insulin resistance through Toll-like
receptors. Nat Med 12:1359-1361, 2006.
- Kim JK. Fat uses a TOLL-road to connect inflammation and diabetes. Cell Metab
3- Kokoeva MV, Yin H, Flier JS. Neurogenesis
in the hypothalamus of adult mice: potential role in energy balance. Science
This paper was the subject of a "News and Views" article:
- Seeley RJ. More neurons, less weight. Nat Med 11:1276-1278, 2005.
Click here for PubMed listing
While much is known about the molecular basis of hypothalamic
control in mammalian energy homeostasis, neural circuit plasticity including changes
in neural cell numbers has only recently been implicated in body weight regulation.
We want to decipher the mechanistic underpinnings of long-term changes in body weight
set points by exploring plastic changes in the brain circuits that control feeding.
We have previously shown that exogenous induction of hypothalamic
cell proliferation is associated with weight loss. We also have demonstrated that cells
proliferate on an ongoing basis in the adult hypothalamus, even in the absence of
external cues such as growth factor administration. We are currently investigating the
role of these constitutively born cells in energy homeostasis by employing in vivo cell
ablation approaches in conjunction with electrophysiological and ultrastructural studies.
The long-term goal of my lab is to mechanistically understand why some
humans can maintain their body weight strikingly constant over most of their adult lives
while others are confronted with gradual or abrupt increases in fat mass. Our studies may
thus provide new insight in the etiology of obesity and ultimately help to develop new
strategies for the prevention and treatment of obesity-related diseases.