The prevalence of eating disorders in the world has been increasing in recent years, especially among the female population. In fact, it has gone up from 3.5% in the 2000-2006 period to 7.8% between 2013 and 2018.
Many times, these disorders hide cases of food addiction, related to a loss of control over food intake.
Recently, researchers at the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University (DCEXS-UPF), in collaboration with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Hospital del Mar, have identified for the first time the involvement of certain brain cortical regions in the development of food addiction; specifically, the circuit that goes from the prefrontal cortex to the nucleus accumbens, an area of the limbic system related to the reward and pleasure processes.
The study, which has used mice as a model animal, has also shown that overexpression of the dopamine D2 receptor at the cortical level would be directly related to the loss of control over food intake. In previous studies, the dopamine D2 receptor had already been associated with drug addiction.
Researchers have linked the overexpression of the dopamine D2 receptor, previously associated with drug addiction, with the loss of control over food intake
“There is some controversy at present as to how to classify this important behavioural disorder; our findings strengthen the idea that eating addiction exists and shares common features with drug addiction”, concludes Rafael Maldonado, director of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory at the DCEXS-UPF.
Domingo-Rodriguez et al. A speciﬁc prelimbic-nucleus accumbens pathway controls resilience versus vulnerability to food addiction. Nature Communications, February 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-14458-y