Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mechanism involved in addictions and some forms of obesity discovered in U of A lab

05.10.2010
A researcher from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta has discovered a mechanism underlying some forms of obesity and addictions which could lead to a treatment for both diseases.

When a hungry animal finds food in the wild, it is a rewarding stimulus for the animal and is recognized by the brain by the release of the chemical messenger dopamine. Because narcotics such as cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, and even tasty and highly-caloric foods also cause the release of dopamine and therefore make people feel rewarded, it's clear that dopamine has a role in addiction and the development of obesity.

When an animal knows it can expect rewarding stimuli, like a treat, in a certain location, either in the wild or captivity, this is called 'conditioned place preference' and is dependent on spatial memories being formed in a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus.

Professor Bill Colmers and his research group, in the department of pharmacology, set out to find if dopamine may have an effect on the memory-forming brain cells in the dentate gyrus. His group used living brain slices from laboratory models and were able to mimic activity in brain cells when an animal is exploring a novel environment. When dopamine was added, it increased the excitability in part of the brain cell called the dendrites. A chemical secreted by the brain, Neuropeptide Y, had the opposite effect making the cells less excitable.

They took this experiment further by looking at a model called long term potentiation, which is the name for a form of cellular learning. When the scientists stimulated dopamine receptors they found that cellular learning was strengthened. While doing the same experiment with neuropeptide Y, applied together with dopamine, it prevented long-term potentiation from happening

The group also did this in human brain slices taken from patients undergoing therapy for temporal lobe epilepsy. The human brain cells showed the same properties as cells found in rats, and they also undergo dopamine-dependent cellular learning when stimulated in the same fashion as the laboratory models.

Considering Colmers and his group's major focus is in obesity, this is a very exciting finding.

"You can find the fridge and you know there's good stuff in there, so you can find it in your sleep, and people do," said Colmers. "So there's this whole reward aspect to place that we've been able to unravel."

These results help explain the mechanisms that underlie the formation of reward-cued spatial memories in both the laboratory model and human dentate gyrus. Understanding this mechanism not only explains the biology of an important form of learning, but may also lead to potential treatments for addiction and obesity.

Quinn Phillips | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>