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Dopamine Found to Be Linked With Obesity

U. S. scientists have determined dopamine, a brain chemical associated with reward, pleasure, movement and motivation as well plays a role in obesity.

Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers made the detection during a brain-imaging study of genetically obese rats.

The scientists found the obese rats had lower levels of dopamine D2 receptors than lean rats. They also demonstrated restricting food intake could raise the number of D2 receptors, to some extent attenuating normal declines related with aging.

This research corroborates brain-imaging studies carried out at Brookhaven that found decreased levels of dopamine D2 receptors in obese people compared to normal-weight people, said neuroscientist Panayotis Thanos, lead author of the study.

The researchers, however, did not determine whether reduced receptor levels are a cause or consequence of obesity. However, either way, the scientists said the study proposes increasing receptor levels by restricting food intake may enhance the impact of the common strategy for combating obesity.

The finding may also assist explain why food restriction slows other changes associated with aging, such as declines in locomotors activity and sensitivity to reward.

The research is available on the online edition of the journal, Synapse and will appear in an upcoming print issue.



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