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Gut-brain communication failure may spur overeating

Restoring a depleted molecule in obese mice repaired their abnormal response to food

2:00pm, August 15, 2013

Repairing a faulty communication line between the gut and the brain can quell the urge to overeat, an experiment that cured chubby mice of their junk food addiction indicates. A similar strategy might be used to treat compulsive eating in people.

Some scientists have proposed that, in both mice and humans, overeating can resemble drug addiction; the more food a person consumes, the less responsive the brain becomes to the pleasure of eating. By restoring normal communication between the gut and brain, researchers were able to resensitize overfed rodents to the pleasures of both fatty and healthy foods.

"The therapeutic implications are huge,” says neuroscientist Paul Kenny of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., who was not involved in the study.

In the brain, a chemical called dopamine surges in response to pleasurable experiences like eating, sex and taking drugs. But brain-scanning studies suggest that obese individuals have muted dopamine

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