Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism involved in addictions and some forms of obesity discovered

Date:
October 4, 2010
Source:
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a mechanism underlying some forms of obesity and addictions which could lead to a treatment for both diseases.

A researcher from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta has discovered a mechanism underlying some forms of obesity and addictions which could lead to a treatment for both diseases.

Related Articles


When a hungry animal finds food in the wild, it is a rewarding stimulus for the animal and is recognized by the brain by the release of the chemical messenger dopamine. Because narcotics such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, and even tasty and highly-caloric foods also cause the release of dopamine and therefore make people feel rewarded, it's clear that dopamine has a role in addiction and the development of obesity. When an animal knows it can expect rewarding stimuli, like a treat, in a certain location, either in the wild or captivity, this is called 'conditioned place preference' and is dependent on spatial memories being formed in a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus.

Professor Bill Colmers and his research group, in the department of pharmacology, set out to find if dopamine may have an effect on the memory-forming brain cells in the dentate gyrus. His group used living brain slices from laboratory models and were able to mimic activity in brain cells when an animal is exploring a novel environment. When dopamine was added, it increased the excitability in part of the brain cell called the dendrites. A chemical secreted by the brain, Neuropeptide Y, had the opposite effect making the cells less excitable.

They took this experiment further by looking at a model called long term potentiation, which is the name for a form of cellular learning. When the scientists stimulated dopamine receptors they found that cellular learning was strengthened. While doing the same experiment with neuropeptide Y, applied together with dopamine, it prevented long-term potentiation from happening

The group also did this in human brain slices taken from patients undergoing therapy for temporal lobe epilepsy. The human brain cells showed the same properties as cells found in rats, and they also undergo dopamine-dependent cellular learning when stimulated in the same fashion as the laboratory models.

Considering Colmers and his group's major focus is in obesity, this is a very exciting finding.

"You can find the fridge and you know there's good stuff in there, so you can find it in your sleep, and people do," said Colmers. "So there's this whole reward aspect to place that we've been able to unravel."

These results help explain the mechanisms that underlie the formation of reward-cued spatial memories in both the laboratory model and human dentate gyrus. Understanding this mechanism not only explains the biology of an important form of learning, but may also lead to potential treatments for addiction and obesity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Mechanism involved in addictions and some forms of obesity discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004151658.htm>.
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. (2010, October 4). Mechanism involved in addictions and some forms of obesity discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004151658.htm
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Mechanism involved in addictions and some forms of obesity discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101004151658.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Americans Drink More in the Winter

Americans Drink More in the Winter

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) The BACtrack breathalyzer app analyzed Americans' blood alcohol content and found out a whole lot of interesting things about their drinking habits. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher 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