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New research by scientists at the University of California, Riverside now shows that chronic consumption of a western diet leads to overeating and obesity due to elevations in "peripheral endocannabinoid signaling."
The endocannabinoid system is located throughout the mammalian body, including the brain and all peripheral organs, and participates in the control of many physiological functions in the body, including food intake, energy balance, and reward. It is comprised of lipid signaling molecules called endocannabinoids -- which can be thought of as the body's own "natural cannabis" -- that bind to cannabinoid receptors located on cells throughout the body.
Research - Receptors - Periphery - Inhibitors - Brain
"Our research shows that targeting cannabinoid receptors in the periphery with pharmacological inhibitors that do not reach the brain holds promise as a safe therapeutic approach for the treatment of overeating and diet-induced obesity," said Nicholas V. DiPatrizio, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine, who led the research project. "This therapeutic approach to targeting the periphery has substantial advantages over traditional drugs that interact with the brain and cause psychiatric side-effects."
The work describes for the first time that overeating associated with chronic consumption of a western diet is driven by an enhancement in endocannabinoid signals generated in peripheral organs.
Study - Results - Journal - Physiology - Behavior
Study results appear in the journal Physiology & Behavior.
To examine the role for endocannabinoids generated in peripheral organs in controlling the overeating of western diet, DiPatrizio and coauthor Donovan A. Argueta, a bioengineering Ph.D. student in his lab, used a mouse model of western diet-induced obesity (chronic exposure to high levels of sugars and fats).
Low-fat/low-sugar - Diet - Mice - Diet - Days
They found that when compared to mice fed a standard low-fat/low-sugar diet, mice fed a western diet for 60 days rapidly gained body weight and became obese, and displayed "hyperphagia," that is, they consumed significantly more calories, and consumed significantly larger meals at a much higher...
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