Catherine Kotz, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Care (GRECC); Food Science and Nutrition; MN Obesity Center


Research Interests:

Our laboratory focuses on brain sites and substrates mediating energy balance, in obesity prone and obesity-resistant animal models. The goal of our laboratory is to understand brain mechanisms important in determining the popensity for obesity. These investigations involve study of neuropeptides that regulate feeding behavior and energy expenditure, including that related to physical activity. Our most recent focus is on the role of orexin, also known as hypocretin.  Orexin is a recently identified neuropeptide predominantly located in the lateral hypothalamus that enhances feeding and physical activity, and which also modifies sleep/wake patterns. Our laboratory has shown that orexin elevates non-volitional low-level activity, which has an important impact on body weight control. We have also shown that this low level activity may be important in maintaing obesity resistance during aging. The techniques we use include stereotaxic surgery, immunohistochemistry, food intake measurements, physical activity chamber measurements, indirect calorimetry, body composition (EchoNMR) radioimmunoassay and molecular biology procedures, including RNA/DNA extraction, northern blots, slot blots, rtPCR, cDNA probe synthesis, random primer labeling, hybridization, densitometry and microarrays.


Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

Duffy CM, Yuan C, Wisdorf LE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM, Nixon JP, Butterick TA. Role of orexin A signaling in dietary palmitic acid-activated microglial cells. Neurosci Lett. 2015 Aug 22;606:140-144.

Nixon JP, Mavanji V, Butterick TA, Billington CJ, Kotz CM, Teske JA. Sleep disorders, obesity, and aging: the role of orexin. Ageing Res Rev. 2015 Mar;20:63-73.

Mavanji V, Perez-Leighton CE, Kotz CM, Billington CJ, Parthasarathy S, Sinton CM, Teske JA. Promotion of Wakefulness and Energy Expenditure by Orexin-A in the Ventrolateral Preoptic Area. Sleep. 2015 Mar 7. pii: sp-00646-14.

Zink AN, Perez-Leighton CE, Kotz CM. The orexin neuropeptide system: physical activity and hypothalamic function throughout the aging process. Front Syst Neurosci. 2014 Nov 4;8:211.

Noble EE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM, Wang C. Oxytocin in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus reduces feeding and acutely increases energy expenditure. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014 Sep 15;307(6):R737-45.

Perez-Leighton CE, Grace M, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Role of spontaneous physical activity in prediction of susceptibility to activity based anorexia in male and female rats. Physiol Behav. 2014 Aug;135:104-11.

Butterick TA, Duffy CM, Lee RE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM, Nixon JP.Use of a caspase multiplexing assay to determine apoptosis in a hypothalamic cell model. J Vis Exp. 2014 Apr 16;(86).

Noble EE, Mavanji V, Little MR, Billington CJ, Kotz CM, Wang C. Exercise reduces diet-induced cognitive decline and increases hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor in CA3 neurons. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Apr 19;114C:40-50.

Teske JA, Perez-Leighton CE, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Methodological considerations for measuring spontaneous physical activity in rodents. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2014 Mar 5.

Mitra A, Kotz CM, Kim EM, Grace MK, Kuskowski MA, Billington CJ, Levine AS. Effects of butorphanol on feeding and neuropeptide Y in the rat. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Jan;100(3):575-80. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Teske JA, Billington CJ, Kuskowski MA, Kotz CM. Spontaneous physical activity protects against fat mass gain. Int J Obes (Lond). 2011 May 24.

Mavanji V, Teske JA, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Elevated sleep quality and orexin receptor mRNA in obesity-resistant rats. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Nov;34(11):1576-88. Epub 2010 May 25.

Nestrasil I, Michaeli S, Liimatainen T, Rydeen CE, Kotz CM, Nixon JP, Hanson T, Tuite PJ. T1rho and T2rho MRI in the evaluation of Parkinson's disease. J Neurol. 2010 Jun;257(6):964-8. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Nixon JP, Zhang M, Wang C, Kuskowski MA, Novak CM, Levine JA, Billington CJ, Kotz CM. Evaluation of a Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging System for Whole Body Composition Analysis in Rodents. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Jan 7.

Teske JA, Kotz CM. Effect of acute and chronic caloric restriction and metabolic glucoprivation on spontaneous physical activity in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Jul;297(1):R176-84. Epub 2009 May 6.

Kotz CM, Teske JA, Billington CJ. Neuroregulation of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and obesity resistance. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Mar;294(3):R699-710. Review.

Teske JA, Levine AS, Kuskowski M, Levine JA, Kotz CM. Elevated hypothalamic orexin signaling, sensitivity to orexin A and spontaneous physical activity in obesity resistant rats. Am J Physiol Regul. 2006 Oct;291(4):R889-899.

Kotz CM, Wang C, Teske JA, Thorpe AJ, Novak CM, Kiwaki K, Levine JA. Orexin A mediation of time spent moving in rats: Neural mechanisms. Neuroscience. 2006 Sep 29;142(1):29-36.

Former Graduate Students:

Anastasia Zink (Ph.D. 2015, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Claudio Perez-Leighton (Ph.D. 2012, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Erwin Ferri (M.S. 2009, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Andrew Thorpe (Ph.D. 2004, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Catherine Kotz