Overeating can cause neurological changes that can lead to obesity. A new study released by the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows that overeating effectively “cuts the breaks” on the brain’s ability to reduce food intake, and can therefore cause neurological changes that lead to obesity, a disease that affects more than 500 million adults worldwide.
The study, completed on mice, shows how diet-induced obesity can actually alter the function of a critical neurological feeding suppression system.
Prior research on how the brain and obesity are linked show that the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), which mediates physiological functions connected to survival, is a crucial component necessary for controlling eating behavior.
Researcher Mark Rossi and his colleagues used a combination of single-cell RNA sequencing and two-photon calcium imaging to identify and analyze obesity-linked alterations in certain cells within the LHA.
They found a distinct class of cells called glutamatergic neurons that suppress food intake beyond satiation.
But, in mice who ate high-fat, obesogenic diets, Rossi and his team found that the glutamatergic neurons are altered and therefore cannot effectively suppress natural feeding.
These findings, published in Science, could potentially help identify therapeutic methods for eating disorders and help quell the obesity epidemic in humans.
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