Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Brain Res. 2002 Oct 25;953(1-2):215-22.

Diet-induced obesity increases mu opioid receptor binding in specific regions of the rat brain.

Author information

  • 1Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Group, Department of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


Mu (mu) opioid agonists preferentially increase the intake of highly palatable food. Here we investigated changes in mu opioid binding in feeding- and reward-related brain regions in rats given a palatable diet for 17 weeks. Diet feeding induced variable obesity, and rats were stratified into 'high-weight gain' (HWG: weight increase, 513-695 g; n=12) and 'low-weight gain' (LWG: range: 396-502 g; n=11) groups. Chow-fed controls (n=9) gained 324-487 g during this time. Body fat mass and plasma leptin and insulin were significantly higher in LWG than in controls and even higher in HWG. mu-Receptor binding (measured in brain slices using [3H]-DAMGO (D-Ala(2), N-Me-Phe(4),Gly-ol(5)) and quantitative autoradiography) was significantly increased in specific forebrain regions of diet-fed rats. In the fundus striati, dorsal endopiriform nucleus and medial preoptic area (MPA), binding was similarly increased (30-40%; P<0.05 vs. controls) in the HWG and LWG groups. Increases in mu binding paralleled weight gain in the basolateral amygdala and basomedial amygdala, being approximately 20% above controls (P<0.001) in LWG and approximately 30% higher in HWG (P<0.05 vs. LWG). The medial habenula showed significantly higher binding (by approximately 40%) in HWG, with no significant changes in LWG. In all these areas (except the MPA), binding was significantly correlated with plasma leptin and insulin. We suggest that increased mu binding reflects decreased release of endogenous mu opioid peptides. This orexigenic system therefore seems unlikely to drive appetite for palatable food. Indeed, the mu opioid system in reward-related areas may be inhibited in dietary obesity, probably by increased plasma leptin and insulin, and this may represent a failed homeostatic attempt to limit overeating and eventually obesity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk