Andrew Butler

Ph.D., University of Auckland

Department: Pharmacological & Physiological Science

Academic Rank: Professor

Phone: 314-977-6425 Fax:


Lab Web Page Links:


Primary Area of Cardiovascular Research Interest

Nutrient sensing mechanisms and the role of these systems in diabetes and cardiovascular disease Neural “nutrient sensing networks” control ingestive behaviors and metabolism to maintain metabolic homeostasis and a healthy body weight. The central nervous melanocortin system is a critical component of this network. Mutations that impair the activity of this system cause a hyperphagic obesity syndrome in humans, suggesting that it may be a target for developing treatment for obesity and associated metabolic diseases. Our group uses genetically modified mice to investigate the role of melanocortin receptors in maintaining metabolic homeostasis. We are mainly interested in the melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3Rs), a poorly understood component of the central nervous melanocortin system. Our results suggest MC3Rs play an essential role in adapting ingestive behaviors and metabolism to nutrient scarcity. During our investigations of melanocortin receptor deficient mice, we identified a new peptide hormone (adropin) that is involved in metabolic homeostasis. Plasma levels of adropin are regulated by food intake and dietary macronutrients. Our data suggests adropin plays a role in regulating fuel selection (fats or glucose). Significantly, low plasma levels of adropin in humans may be a risk factor for the metabolic diseases with insulin resistance as a defining feature that are associated with obesity. This novel hormone may therefore be a promising lead in the development of new therapies for type 2 diabetes.