UC Riverside-led mouse study focuses on cannabis-like molecules that augment feeding behavior
By Iqbal Pittalwala
Signals between our gut and brain control how and when we eat food. But how the molecular mechanisms involved in this signaling are affected when we eat a high-energy diet and how they contribute to obesity are not well understood.
Using a mouse model, a research team led by a biomedical scientist at the University of California, Riverside, has found that overactive endocannabinoid signaling in the gut drives overeating in diet-induced obesity by blocking gut-brain satiation signaling.
Endocannabinoids are cannabis-like molecules made naturally by the body to regulate several processes: immune, behavioral, and neuronal. As with cannabis, endocannabinoids can enhance feeding behavior.
The researchers detected high activity of endocannabinoids at cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the gut of mice that were fed a high-fat and sugar — or Western — diet for 60 days. This overactivity, they found, prevented the food-induced secretion of the satiation peptide cholecystokinin, a short chain of amino acids whose function is to inhibit eating. This resulted in the mice overeating. Cannabinoid CB1 receptors and cholecystokinin are present in all mammals, including humans.
“If drugs could be developed to target these cannabinoid receptors so that the release of satiation peptides is not inhibited during excessive eating, we would be a step closer to addressing the prevalence of obesity that affects millions of people in the country and around the world,” said Nicholas V. DiPatrizio, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the UC Riverside School of Medicine who led the research team.
For more information, please visit: https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2019/06/11/curbing-your-enthusiasm-overeating