Study finds link between peptide and food preference causing overeating at dangerous levels
Scientist have found that when hormone glucagon like peptide-1 was reduced in the central nervous system of laboratory mice, they overate and consumed more high fat food. This means that targeting targeting neurons in the mesolimbic dopamine system rather than the whole body might be a better approach in fighting obesity and weight-losing.
Eating behaviour is controlled by the central nervous system. The low levels or absence of a hormone in the brain can cause eating out of pleasure, not because of hunger, causing deviated eating habits. GLP-1 peptides are sequences of amino acids that are secreted from small intestine and brain cells, that regulates eating behaviours.
“The mice in which the GLP-1 deficiency was induced ate beyond the need for calories and showed an increase preference for high fat food,” says Vincent Mirabella, study co-author. “Conversely when we enhanced GLP-1 signalling in the brains of mice we were able to block the preference of high fat foods.”
The study showed that activating the GLP-1 hormone in the mesolimbic system lead mice to consume less food and to lose the preference for high fat food.
“These are the same areas of the brain that controls other addictive behaviours like drug and alcohol abuse and nicotine addiction,” says Professor Zhiping Pang, senior author of the research. “We believe that our work has broad implications in understanding how GLP-1 functions to influence motivational behaviours.”
Effective therapies for treating obesity are very limited and usually they imply serious side-effects on overall health. “Over eating, which causes obesity, can be considered a food addiction, a neuropsychiatric disorder,” Pang says. “By finding out how the central nervous system regulates food intake behaviour via GLP-1 signalling, we may be able to provide more targeted therapy with fewer side effects.”