Some people eat for pleasure rather than hunger. Researchers have now pointed out that the absence of an hormone in the brain may trigger such overeating behavior in people. Mice studies revealed that when the glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone was reduced in the central nervous system of the rodents, they overate and consumed more high fat food. GLP-1 peptides are secreted from cells in both the small intestine and the brain. They are small sequences of amino acids that have several functions, including how our bodies regulate eating behaviors. GLP-1 is supposed to let our brain know when we are satisfied and should put down the fork.
Vincent Mirabella, doctoral student from New Jersey-based Rutgers University, said, "The mice in which the peptide deficiency was induced ate beyond the need for calories and showed an increase preference for high fat food. Conversely, when we enhanced GLP-1 signaling in the brains of mice, we were able to block the preference of high fat foods."
The study findings provide new evidence that targeting neurons in the mesolimbic dopamine system, a reward circuit in the brain, rather than targeting the whole body might be a better way to control overeating and obesity with fewer side effects. Assistant professor Zhiping Pang said, "Over eating, which causes obesity, can be considered a food addiction and a neuropsychiatric disorder. By finding out how the central nervous system regulates food intake behavior via GLP-1 signaling, we may be able to provide more targeted therapy with fewer side effects."
The paper is published in the Cell Reports.