When someone gains or loses weight, their vessel system or vasculature changes. This holds true whether you’re a human or a fruit fly, though flies have an air filled tracheal system (shown here in green), rather than blood filled vessels. It was always believed that the tracheal system only changed in response to the tissues’ altered oxygen need. Yet now it’s become clear that more is going on – the insects’ air tubes are also responding to signals coming from special nutrient sensing neurons [nerve cells] in the gut. Interestingly, the resulting changes are most prominent in tubes around gut cells (pictured in grey). Together with other findings, this indicates that the tracheal system can in fact direct metabolic changes. And if this too holds true for human vasculature, then tweaking the system could become the next target for treating obesity.
Written by Emma Bornebroek
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.