Mouse Study Finds Dopamine Activation May Reduce Binge-Eating

New research suggests certain neurological circuits associated with the production of dopamine have the ability to inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice.

The research may bring some clarity on the neurological basis for binge eating. Currently, the origin of the disease is unclear.

“Human literature suggests that dysfunction of the serotonin system or dopamine system in the brain may be associated with developing binge-like eating behavior,” said Dr. Yong Xu, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and senior author of the paper.

“However, mechanistically, there’s no direct evidence to show how this system affects behavior.”

Researchers at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital found that certain neural circuits have the ability to inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice.

Their report appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

In this study, Xu and colleagues identified a neural circuit where a group of serotonin neurons project to and activate dopamine neurons. They showed that activation of this circuit can inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice.

In addition, since there are 14 potential receptors that can mediate complex effects of serotonin in the body, Xu and colleagues identified a specific receptor that is important in binge-like eating behavior.

They determined that the serotonin 2C receptor, which is expressed by dopamine neurons, is important in suppressing binge eating.

Xu noted that an FDA-approved drug, a serotonin 2C agonist, is currently being used as a treatment for overweight and obese adults and could potentially be repurposed to suppress binge eating in adults.

Source: Baylor College of Medicine