Motivation and Diet-Induced Obesity: College of Pharmacy May Monthly Publication Highlight

May 03, 2013

An article showing that an individual’s motivation to work for high-fat food predicts the development of diet-induced obesity has been named as the UK College of Pharmacy Publication Highlight for May.

The article is entitled “Diet-Induced Obesity: Dopamine Transporter Function, Impulsivity and Motivation” and was published in the International Journal of Obesity, a Nature Publishing Group journal. Authors included Vidya Narayanaswami, a 2013 PhD recipient from the UK College of Pharmacy, Linda P. Dwoskin, Associate Dean for Research for the UK College of Pharmacy, Lisa A. Cassis, Chair of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology, Michael T. Bardo, Professor with the UK Department of Psychology, and Alexis C. Thompson, Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions.

This publication demonstrates that motivation for high‐fat food, but not impulsivity, predicts the development of obesity, whereas dopamine transporter function in reward-relevant brain regions is reduced as a result of obesity. Decreased dopamine transporter function leads to increased dopamine in the extracellular compartment and could contribute to high-fat food having a greater rewarding value, which maintains the obese state. These observations were obtained using an outbred animal model fed a high-fat diet for eight weeks.

These scientists believe that pharmacological and behavioral interventions which counteract the decrease in dopamine transporter function may prove efficacious in the treatment of obesity. This study will be of general interest to the neuroscience community, and will have a marked impact on future research on the role of higher brain centers in obesity.

“As we know, obesity is an emerging global epidemic that negatively impacts overall health and wellness. Obesity has been linked to higher incidences of cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, as well as depression. A greater understanding of the role of the brain reward system in the development and maintenance of obesity is critical to developing therapeutics to treat this medical condition.” said Dr. Dwoskin.

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