Kathleen Page

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of USC

Kathleen   Page

Research Topics

  • Brain Regulation of Appetite and Eating Behavior
  • Effects of Sugar on Brain Reward and Energy Signaling Pathways
  • Brain and Appetitive Response to High-Reward Foods
  • Maternal-Fetal Programming for Obesity and Diabetes

Research Images

Research Overview

We have two main areas of interest: 1) Understanding how the brain regulates appetite and eating behavior, and (2) Identifying early life determinants of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Our work in the area of brain appetite regulation has been focused on determining the effects of high-reward foods (like sugar) on brain pathways that regulate appetite and food intake. Our findings to date show differential effects of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose, on brain pathways relevant to eating behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we showed that acute consumption of glucose but not fructose decreased activity in brain appetite and reward pathways and increased satiety in lean adults. These findings suggest that while glucose suppresses brain activity in regions that promote the desire to eat, fructose may promote overeating through its inability to effectively suppress food-seeking behavior (Page et al, JAMA 2013).

Our group also recently found that when obese, young adults viewed pictures of high-calorie foods (like a picture of chocolate cake), their brain appetite and reward centers were stimulated, and they reported greater hunger and desire to eat (Luo et al, Obesity 2013). We are now conducting studies to determine brain and appetite responses to dual stimulation by food images and sugar intake.

Our second area of interest is understanding how early life exposures may lead to an increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Our current NIH funded project is aimed at understanding the effects of exposure to maternal gestational diabetes on risks for obesity and diabetes in offspring. To date, we have demonstrated an excess of obesity in children who were exposed to maternal diabetes in utero. We are currently conducting studies aimed at understanding potential neuroendocrine mechanisms by which these intergenerational effects occur.

Contact Information

Mailing Address MC 9113
Office Location Diabetes and Obesity Research
Office Phone (323) 442-2804
Lab Location Diabetes and Obesity Research
Lab Phone
Office Location Diabetes and Obesity Research



  • BS 1994 Exercise Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  • MS 1998 Physiology, University of Oklahoma, OKC, OK
  • MD 2002, USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
  • Post-Doctoral Residency 2005, Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2008, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Yale School of Medicine
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2009, Neuroimaging in Science, Yale School of Medicine

Selected Publications

  • Luo S, Romero A, Adam TC, Hu HH, Monterosso J, Page KA. Abdominal fat is associated with a greater brain reward response to high-calorie food cues in Hispanic women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Oct;21(10):2029-2036.  PubMed
  • Page KA, Chan O, Arora J, Belfort-DeAguiar R, Dzuira J, Roehmholdt B, Cline GW, Naik S, Sinha R, Constable RT, Sherwin RS. Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved with Appetite and Reward Pathways. JAMA. 2013 Jan 2;309(1):63-70. PubMed
  • Gulanski BI, De Feyter HMPage KA, Belfort-Deaguiar R, Mason GF, Rothman DL, Sherwin RS. Increased brain transport and metabolism of acetate in hypoglycemia unawareness. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep;98(9):3811-20.  PubMed
  • Schafer RJ, Page KA, Arora J, Sherwin RS, Constable RT. BOLD response to semantic and syntactic processing during hypoglycemia is load-dependent. Brain Lang. 2012 Jan;120(1):1-14.  PubMed
  • Page KA, Seo D, Aguiar R, Lacadie C, Dzuira J, Naik S, Amarnath S, Constable RS, Sherwin RS, Sinha R. Circulating Glucose Levels Modulate Neural Control of Desire for High-Calorie Foods in Humans, J Clin Invest. 2011 Oct; 121(10):4161–9. PubMed
  • Buchanan TA, Xiang AH, Page KA. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: Risks and Management During and After Pregnancy. Nat Rev Endocrinol.2012 Nov;8(11):639-49. PubMed
  • Page KA, Arora J, Qiu M, Relwani R, Constable RT, Sherwin RS. Small decrements in systemic glucose provoke increases in hypothalamic blood flow prior to the release of counterregulatory hormones. Diabetes, 2009 Feb;58(2):448-52.  PubMed
  • Page KA, Williamson A, Yu N, McNay EC, Dzuira J, McCrimmon RJ, Sherwin RS. Medium-chain fatty acids improve cognitive function in intensively treated type 1 diabetic patients and support in vitro synaptic transmission during acute hypoglycemia. Diabetes. 2009 May;58(5):1237-44.  PubMed