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 Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>