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Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Jul;40(7):1183-6. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2016.31. Epub 2016 Feb 15.

N-acetylcysteine decreases binge eating in a rodent model.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, USA.


Binge-eating behavior involves rapid consumption of highly palatable foods leading to increased weight gain. Feeding in binge disorders resembles other compulsive behaviors, many of which are responsive to N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is a cysteine prodrug often used to promote non-vesicular glutamate release by a cystine-glutamate antiporter. To examine the potential for NAC to alter a form of compulsive eating, we examined the impact of NAC on binge eating in a rodent model. Specifically, we monitored consumption of standard chow and a high-fat, high carbohydrate western diet (WD) in a rodent limited-access binge paradigm. Before each session, rats received either a systemic or intraventricular injection of NAC. Both systemic and central administration of NAC resulted in significant reductions of binge eating the WD without decreasing standard chow consumption. The reduction in WD was not attributable to general malaise as NAC did not produce condition taste aversion. These results are consistent with the clinical evidence of NAC to reduce or reverse compulsive behaviors, such as, drug addiction, skin picking and hair pulling.

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