Overeating And Hormone Deficiency: Reduction Of GLP-1 Results In Consumption Of Fatty Foods

First Posted: Jul 24, 2015 04:40 PM EDT

Overeating may be the result of a brain hormone deficiency, according to recent findings published in Cell Reports.

Researchers found that when the hormone glucagon like peptitde-1 (GLP-1) was reduced in the central nervous system of laboratory mice, they were more likely to overeat and to eat foods higher in fat.

"The mice in which the GLP-1 deficiency was induced ate beyond the need for calories and showed an increase preference for high fat food," says Vincent Mirabella, a medical school and doctoral student who co-authored the study, in a news release. "Conversely when we enhanced GLP-1 signaling in the brains of mice we were able to block the preference of high fat foods."

GLP-1 peptides, which are composed of small sequences of amino acids that help our bodies regulate eating patterns. With their help, we're supposed to know when we're properly full and satisfied following a meal. However, Rutgers scientists say that it's been unclear how the GLP-1 is released into the brain with regards to appetite regulation.

Researchers believed that by targeting neurons in the mesolimbic dopamine system or the reward circuit in the brain, the whole body could work better in controlling overeating and obesity with fewer side effects.

During the study, researchers discovered that activating the GLP-1 hormone in the mesolimbic system disrupted communication between neurons that work on the control of certain behaviors, including eating. When this happened, findings revealed that the mice consumed less food altogether and lost the preference for high fat food.

"These are the same areas of the brain that controls other addictive behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse and nicotine addiction," says senior-author and assistant professor Zhiping Pang. "We believe that our work has broad implications in understanding how GLP-1 functions to influence motivational behaviors."

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