News from CEXS-UPF
Scientists at the DCEXS have investigated the role that the delta opioid receptor (DOR) plays in the the pleasant experience obtained from palatable food like chocolate. The positive properties of foods cause the activation of so-called reward system in the brain, which translates into a feeling of pleasure. This contributes to sense desire to repeat the experience, may result in this case in an excess intake leading to overweight or even obesity.
The role that some types of opioid receptors play in obesity and eating disorders is known. However, little is known about the involvement of DOR receptors in these disorders. In this study, a team led by Rafael Maldonado, examines the function of DOR receptors in the reward response and changes in brain plasticity induced by palatable food. To do so, they have used transgenic mice genetically lacking this receptor.
The results reveal the involvement of DOR receptors in the effects of reward, motivation and impulsive behavior induced by chocolate. Those mice lacking DOR receptors seem to have lost the motivation to chocolate, showing a decrease in the compulsive behavior that chocolate can promote in normal mice. This change was accompanied by an alteration in neuronal plasticity in the brain areas that control the behavior that was also dependent on the DOR receptors.
Samantha Mancino, Sueli Mendonça-Netto, Elena Martín-García, Rafael Maldonado. Role of DOR in neuronal plasticity changes promoted by food-seeking behaviour. Addiction Biology, Mayo 2016. doi:10.1111/adb.12401