Allison Xu, PhD

Photograph of Allison Xu

Associate Professor
UCSF Diabetes Center

Research in my laboratory focuses on understanding how body weight and glucose homeostasis are regulated by the central nervous system. Homeostatic control of body weight depends on the ability of the brain to sense and respond to changes in peripheral energy stores. Peripheral hormones and metabolic signals, such as leptin, insulin, glucocorticoids, and various GI hormones, are dynamically regulated under a variety of physiologic conditions. These hormonal signals are integrated and interpreted by the brain such that food intake and energy expenditure are coordinately regulated. The precise communication between the brain and periphery ensures long-term energy balance and glucose homeostasis are maintained despite tremendous meal-to-meal variation in energy intake.

We use a combination of mouse genetics, whole animal physiology and molecular biology techniques to understand how hypothalamic neurons sense and integrate peripheral metabolic signals. Some of the specific questions under investigation are:

1. What are the leptin and insulin target neurons in the hypothalamus, and what are the functions of these neurons in energy balance and glucose homeostasis?

2. What are the intracellular signaling mechanisms utilized by leptin in hypothalamic neurons?

3. What are the mechanisms of hypothalamic leptin and insulin resistance, a condition associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes?

Contact Information

513 Parnassus Ave, Med Sci
San Francisco CA 94143

Phone: 415-476-2807

Web site:​

Publications on PubMed

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