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Food restriction increases dopamine receptor levels in obese rats
Date:10/25/2007

elp explain why food restriction slows down other changes associated with aging, such as declines in locomotor activity and sensitivity to reward.

Study methods and main findings

The researchers measured dopamine D2 receptor levels in adolescent and young adult genetically obese Zucker rats and lean rats. Between measures, half of the rats in each group were given free access to food while the other half were given 70 percent of the daily average amount of food eaten by the unrestricted group.

The scientists measured D2 receptor levels using two different techniques: micro-positron emission tomography (microPET) in living animals, which uses a radioactively tagged molecule that competes with the brain's natural dopamine for D2 receptor binding sites, and autoradiography, which uses a tracer that binds more strongly than natural dopamine but can only be used in tissue samples rather than in living animals. Together these two methods indicate the absolute number of D2 receptors found in the brain and how many are available or free during day-to-day function, which might be relevant to further elucidating the role of dopamine in obesity.

One main finding was that the overall number of D2 receptors was lower in obese than in lean rats. Also D2 receptor levels decreased with age, but this decline was significantly blunted in food-restricted rats compared with those given free access to food. This attenuation was most apparent in the obese rats.

Another main finding was that D2 receptor availability - that is, the number of receptors available for binding dopamine - was greater at adulthood in the obese rats compared to the lean rats. This suggests that perhaps the release of dopamine had significantly decreased with age in the obese unrestricted animals more than in the restricted ones or the lean rats. The possibility of lower release of dopamine in obese subjects is presently being examined, the researchers say.


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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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