My watch list
my.bionity.com  
Login  

Doped by food

Dopamine release regulates our eating behaviour

09-Jan-2019

GettyImages

The messenger substance dopamine acts in the brain as a reward signal for eating.

When it comes to our food intake, we are only partially in control. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne were able to show that our gastrointestinal tract is in constant contact with the brain and uses reward stimuli to control our desire for food.

Dopamine is the most important messenger substance of the reward system in the brain and is released when, for example, goals are achieved or desire for something motivates us to take action. In elaborate studies, research group leaders Marc Tittgemeyer and Heiko Backes have investigated the question of how food intake in the body is actually controlled. The scientists offered milkshakes to volunteers and at the same time measured the release of dopamine in the brain using a newly developed method.

With the first taste of the milkshake, the brain immediately releases an initial wave of dopamine. As soon as the drink then reaches the stomach, another round of dopamine is released. "Previous experiments with mice have shown that when food reaches the stomach, it is reported to the brain. Our results show that this also happens in humans and, in addition, which specific brain areas are involved," explains Tittgemeyer.

The researchers have also found a link between subjective desire and dopamine release: The brains of participants who had a particular craving for the milkshake, released more dopamine when they tasted the drink. As soon as it reached the stomach, however, less dopamine was released. "Our data show that our cravings are closely related to dopamine. If we don't get the second release of dopamine through the stomach, we might continue to eat until we do", explains Backes.

Food intake primarily supplies the body with energy and nutrients. Ideally, energy consumption and food intake are in constant balance. However, food also has a rewarding value: "If the reward signals are stronger than the equilibrium signal, we eat more than necessary, which can lead to overweight and obesity," says Backes.

Can obesity then be prevented by controlling the release of dopamine? "Unfortunately, it's not that easy," answers Tittgemeyer. "How our body signals influence our actions and how we can influence those signals, for example through cognitive control, is not yet really understood. More research is still needed."

Original publication:

Sharmili Edwin Thanarajah, Heiko Backes, Alexandra G. DiFeliceantonio, Kerstin Albus, Anna Lena Cremer, Ruth Hanssen, Rachel N. Lippert, Oliver A. Cornely, Dana M. Small, Jens C. Brüning, Marc Tittgemeyer; "Food intake recruits orosensory and post-ingestive dopaminergic circuits to affect eating desire in humans"; Cell Metabolism; 2019.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • overweight
More about MPI für Stoffwechselforschung
More about Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  • News

    In the active centre of carbon dioxide conversion

    In order to overcome the climate crisis, two measures are required: The reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and removal of CO2 from the earth atmosphere. The latter is the goal of Tobias Erb's research group at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg. Their ... more

    How living matter self-organizes through chemical signals

    Cells and microorganisms produce and consume all sorts of chemicals, from nutrients to signaling molecules. The same happens at the nanoscale inside cells themselves, where enzymes catalyze the production and consumption of the chemicals needed for life. In new work published in Physical Re ... more

    Liquid crystal liver

    The currently used simplified model of mammalian liver tissue can only show in a limited way how liver tissue is structured and formed. Almost 70 years later, researchers at the Max Planck Institutes of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics as well as for the Physics of Complex Systems togeth ... more

  • Videos

    Epigenetics - packaging artists in the cell

    Methyl attachments to histone proteins determine the degree of packing of the DNA molecule. They thereby determine whether a gene can be read or not. In this way, environment can influence the traits of an organism over generations. more

    Biomaterials - patent solutions from nature

    Animals and plants can produce amazing materials such as spider webs, wood or bone using only a few raw materials available. How do they achieve this? And what can engineers learn from them? more

    Chaperones - folding helpers in the cell

    Nothing works without the correct form: For most proteins, there are millions of ways in which these molecules, composed of long chains of amino acids, can be folded - but only one way is the right one. Researchers in the department "Cellular Biochemistry" at the Max Planck Institute for Bi ... more

  • Research Institutes

    Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V.

    The research institutes of the Max Planck Society perform basic research in the interest of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. In particular, the Max Planck Society takes up new and innovative research areas that German universiti ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE