Aparna Gupta

CTSI is an untapped and underutilized resource. I am grateful to CTSI on many fronts and cannot express the gratitude I feel for all those who have some helped me do the work I am passionate about.

-Arpana Gupta, MD, PhD, lead co-author

A recent UCLA study published in Nature Mental Health finds that exposure to discrimination, as a psychological stressor, contributes to a heightened food-cue response and brain-gut-microbiome changes that promotes unhealthy eating habits. Food cues act as external stimuli that influence responses to food, and food intake.

The study utilized multi-omics analyses and stool samples, which showed that greater discrimination exposure was associated with changes in the brain-gut-microbiome. These changes are associated with increased risk of inflammation and obesity.

UCLA CTSI supported the study, in part, through lead co-author Arpana Gupta's CTSI/CURE Pilot and Feasibility award which provided funding for the processing of stool samples. "As a faculty member on soft money in the Department of Medicine, I did not have start up funds to process samples for pilot data," said Gupta. "CTSI/CURE pilot grant funding allowed me to do this. Not only was I able to get pilot data for a R01 application but this also helped me put out some innovative and high risk high reward papers out that supported my research model."

As for what's next on her research agenda, Dr. Gupta notes that she looks forward to continuing "to further develop the research model to think about gut directed therapies that could help disadvantaged individuals in the context of experiencing environmental adversities."

Read the study's recent Research Spotlight highlighted in the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Newsroom.

Image source: UCLA Health

Image caption: Dr. Arpana Gupta