Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obesity May Be Wired In The Brain, Rat Study Suggests

Date:
February 6, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
A predisposition for obesity might be wired into the brain from the start, suggests a new study of rats. Rats selectively bred to be prone to obesity show abnormalities in a part of the brain critical for appetite control, the researchers found. Specifically, the researchers show that the obese rats harbor defects in neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, which leaves their brains less responsive to the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin.

A predisposition for obesity might be wired into the brain from the start, suggests a new study.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ekaterina Monakhova

A predisposition for obesity might be wired into the brain from the start, suggests a new study of rats.

Related Articles


Rats selectively bred to be prone to obesity show abnormalities in a part of the brain critical for appetite control, the researchers found. Specifically, the researchers show that the obese rats harbor defects in neurons of the arcuate nucleus (ARH) of the hypothalamus, which leaves their brains less responsive to the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin.

"The neurodevelopmental differences in these animals can be seen as early as the first week," said Sebastien Bouret of the University of Southern California. "The results show that obesity can be wired into the brain from early life. The three-million-dollar question now is how to get around this problem."

It is increasingly accepted that obesity results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, the researchers said. Rodent models of obesity can provide valuable insights into the biological processes underlying the development of obesity in humans. The "diet-induced obese" (DIO) rats used in the current study are particularly suited to the task, according to Bouret, because their tendency to become overweight shares several features with human obesity, including the contribution of many genes.

Previous studies had suggested that the brains of DIO rats are insensitive to leptin, the researchers added. Circulating leptin, produced by fat tissue, acts as a signal to the brain about the body's energy status. Leptin is also critical for the initial development of ARH neurons.

In the new study, the researchers examined the obesity-prone rats for signs of abnormal brain development. They found that the animals' brains had fewer neural projections from the ARH, a deficiency that persisted into adulthood. Those projections are needed to relay the leptin signal received by the ARH to other parts of the hypothalamus, Bouret said.

The researchers found further evidence that those changes in brain wiring stem from a reduced responsiveness of the brain to leptin's action during development.

"It seems [in the case of these rats] that appetite and obesity are built into the brain," Bouret said. While their condition might be ameliorated by exercising and eating right, he added, the findings suggest that the propensity to gain weight can't be reversed.

But there is hope yet. It's possible that treatments delivered during a critical early period of development might be capable of rewiring the brain, Bouret said.

This research  was published in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, a publication of Cell Press.

The researchers include Sebastien G. Bouret, Neuroscience Program, The Saban Research Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, Inserm, U837, Jean-Pierre Aubert Research Center, Universite΄ Lille, Lille, France; Judith N. Gorski, Neurology Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, East Orange, NJ, Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, Department of Pharmacology, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ; Christa M. Patterson, Neurology Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, East Orange, NJ, Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ; Stephen Chen, Neuroscience Program, The Saban Research Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Barry E. Levin, Neurology Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, East Orange, NJ, Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ; and Richard B. Simerly, Neuroscience Program, The Saban Research Institute, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Obesity May Be Wired In The Brain, Rat Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205121745.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, February 6). Obesity May Be Wired In The Brain, Rat Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205121745.htm
Cell Press. "Obesity May Be Wired In The Brain, Rat Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205121745.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Sees Resurgence of Drug Trafficking as Ebola Wanes

Liberia Sees Resurgence of Drug Trafficking as Ebola Wanes

AFP (Apr. 1, 2015) — The governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone have been busy fighting the menace created by the deadly Ebola virus, but illicit drug lords have taken advantage of the situation to advance the drug trade. Duration: 01:12 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stigma Stalks India's Leprosy Sufferers as Disease Returns

Stigma Stalks India's Leprosy Sufferers as Disease Returns

AFP (Apr. 1, 2015) — The Indian government declared victory over leprosy in 2005, but the disease is making a comeback in some parts of the country, with more than a hundred thousand lepers still living in colonies, shunned from society. Duration: 02:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

7-Year-Old Girl Gets 3-D Printed 'robohand'

AP (Mar. 31, 2015) — Although she never had much interest in prosthetic limbs before, Faith Lennox couldn&apos;t wait to slip on her new robohand. The 7-year-old, who lost part of her left arm when she was a baby, grabbed it as soon as it came off a 3-D printer. (March 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins