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A High Fat Diet Alters Crucial Aspects Of Brain Dopamine Signaling

July 13, 2010

New animal research demonstrates diet-induced changes in brain chemical release

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that prolonged exposure to a high fat diet is correlated with changes in the brain chemical dopamine within the striatum, a critical component of the brain’s reward system.  The authors measured “Ëœreal-time’ changes in dopamine levels after rats consumed a high fat diet for either 2 or 6 weeks.  Compared to rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high-fat diet rats exhibited reduced dopamine release and also reduced reuptake by “dopamine transporters” within the striatum.  Mitchell Roitman from the University of Illinois at Chicago says, “Previous research has demonstrated reduced dopamine transporter numbers in association with obesity and exposure to a high fat diet.  Our research shows that these changes lead to major differences in the way dopamine functions in the brain.”  The results from this study highlight the impact of diet on brain neurochemistry ““ and in particular on brain systems that regulate motivation and willingness to work for food reward in rats as well as humans.

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