Neural circuits that have the ability to inhibit binge-like eating behavior has been found by researchers at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital. About 10 percent of the adults in the United States suffer from binge eating behavior.
"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 and senior author of the paper. "However, mechanistically, there's no direct evidence to show how this system affects behavior."
‘The serotonin 2C receptor which is expressed by dopamine neurons is important to suppress binge-like eating behavior.’
The researchers identified a neural circuit where a group of serotonin neurons project to and activate dopamine neurons. The researchers showed that activating the neural circuit can inhibit binge-like eating behavior in mice.
The researchers also identified a specific receptor that is important in binge-like eating behavior. The dopamine neurons expressed the serotonin 2C receptor, which is important in suppressing binge eating.
An FDA-approved drug, a serotonin 2C agonist, which is used as a treatment for overweight and obese adults could be re-purposed to suppress binge eating in adults, noted the researchers.
The study is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.