Fluid Homeostasis Group

Our group specialises in the study of the neural circuitry underlying fluid homeostasis – how the brain regulates fluid balance and electrolyte concentrations to maintain a stable environment.

We also study the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the drive to consume highly rewarding foods and fluids, and how this behaviour can contribute to obesity and other health problems.

Research interests

  • Oxytocin system in sugar and alcohol intake
  • Role of the oxytocin system in psilocybin
  • Role of bombesin-3 system in controlling
    palatable food and fluid intake
  • Anxiety, depression and addiction

  • Mouse behaviour, including paradigms to study anxiety and addiction
  • Genetically encoded techniques such as optogenetics and chemogenetics
  • Immunohistochemistry

About our research

Our group is led by Dr Philip Ryan, who discovered a group of neurons in the hindbrain parabrachial nucleus that regulated fluid satiation, and has been expanding these findings to understand the role of this nucleus in controlling alcohol and sugary drinks, and binge-drinking behaviour.

We also investigate the relationship between anxiety, depression, and addiction. We study the neural circuits and molecular mechanisms involved in these conditions and explore potential treatments for them. We’ve also begun researching the role of psychedelics on mood regulation and addiction, and their interaction with neuroendocrine circuits, and how these might contribute to therapeutic effects.

Research team

Research team head

Philip Ryan

Dr Philip Ryan

Group Head

Team members

Research fellows

Research and technical staff

  • Mina Takawy

Selected publications

  • Ryan PJ, Ross SI, Campos CA, Derkach VA and Palmiter RD (2017), ‘Oxytocin-receptor-expressing neurons in the parabrachial nucleus regulate fluid intake’, Nature Neuroscience, 20(12):1722–1733, doi:10.1038/s41593-017-0014-z
  • Saker P, Carey S, Grohmann M, Farrell MJ, Ryan PJ, Egan GF, McKinley MJ and Denton DA (2020), ‘Regional brain responses associated with using imagination to evoke and satiate thirst’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(24):13750–13756, doi:10.1073/pnas.2002825117
  • Ryan PJ (2018), ‘The Neurocircuitry of fluid satiation’, Physiological Reports, 6(12):e13744, doi:10.14814/phy2.13744
  • McKinley, MJ, Pennington GL and Ryan PJ (2021), ‘The median preoptic nucleus: a major regulator of fluid, temperature, sleep, and cardiovascular homeostasis’, Handbook of Clinical Neurology, pp.435–454, doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-819975-6.00028-5
  • McKinley MJ and Ryan PJ (2019), ‘Stress and salt appetite’ in Stress: Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pathology, 381–389, doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-813146-6.00027-8

Contact us

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