Overeating and the brain

Health

A new study of fat mice shows that overeating and obesity change brain cells that signal “you’re full.”

Ellen Schur, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Clinical Research Director UW Medicine Diabetes Institute said, “The number of people losing weight or stating that they have tried to lose weight over the past year is 50 percent.”

Doctor Ellen Schur helps patients lose weight. She says weight loss itself causes hormone changes that make food more appealing, so it’s harder to keep weight off.

In another UW lab, Mark Rossi and Marcus Basiri’s study shows that overeating changes brain cells that suppress food intake.

Mark Rossi, Researcher, UW Medicine Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion said, “We don’t know the exact mechanisms that are contributing to it, but we see that there are profound changes across lots of different cell types.”

Marcus Basiri, Researcher, UW Medicine Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain, and Emotion said, “So these glutamate neurons, which normally function to suppress feeding, were kind of toning down their firing patterns.”

As the mice got fatter, neurons got worse at putting the brakes on eating. The team hopes this leads to new ways to treat obesity in people one day.

Now, the research team is working on isolating an even smaller set of cells that are affected by overeating. They haven’t yet discovered whether the neurons can change back to how they worked before obesity.

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