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.

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 July 30, 2014 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 July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) — Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama 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:
from the past week

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