Brain Circuits Regulate Food Eating Habits

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In an animal model the researchers investigated how the brain regulates feeding triggered by hunger or other factors.The brain circuits are formed by serotonin producing neurons. These neurons produce serotonin neurotransmitters that target the receptors present in the brain.

Scientists discovered that the:

Brain circuit that projects to the hypothalamus regulates hunger-driven feeding and does not influence the non-hunger driven feeding behavior

The other circuit that projects to the midbrain regulates the non-hunger driven feeding but not the feeding behavior triggered by hunger.

In addition to the brain circuits associated with hunger and non-hunger driven feeding the researchers have discovered new molecular targets namely serotonin 2C receptor and serotonin 1B receptor linked to the circuits that are used to treat overeating.

Molecular Targets Linked to Overeating

The serotonin 2C receptor regulates the hunger driven feeding that is present in the hypothalamus whereas serotonin 1B receptor is responsible for feeding driven by pleasure, and it is present in the mid brain. The brain wires for the two types of feeding behavior act differently and do not interfere with other.

Studies have also found that along with the circuits, ion channels are also associated with the eating pattern. The GABA A receptor is a chloride ion that regulates hunger driven feeding and potassium ion is responsible for non-hunger driven feeding.The ion channels are present in the dendrite and the axon of the neuron. The two ion channels are clearly segregated and have distinct functions.

“We also want to explore how external factors related to nutrition might affect ion channel functions at the molecular level,” said Dr. Yong Xu – professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.With the help of the findings the ion channels can be modified to control overeating and can treat disease related to it.

Source: Medindia

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