June 19, 2013

Pleasure Principle Dysfunction in T2D

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pleasure-principleBased on a higher sugar consumption, the brain of a person with metabolic syndrome has a dulled response in the reward centers than a person with a normal metabolism. These findings were published in Biological Psychiatry

A PET scan shows how organs and tissues are working. Specifically in this case, the PET scan identified how the brain of a person with metabolic syndrome responded after consuming a sugar drink. Their brain had a lower-than-normal release of the chemical dopamine in a major pleasure center of the brain.

In people with insulin resistance, a precursor to T2D, this finding could revolutionize the medical community’s understanding of how food-reward signaling contributes to obesity.

Diabetes has been linked to depression. If depression has anything to do with the risk-reward centers of the brain, then this research validates why it may be that there is such a connection between the two.

Overeating can lead to obesity. The fundamental cause of obesity is an imbalance for calories-in versus calories-out. This behavior is called pathological eating and insulin resistance precedes this behavior. Highly concentrated sugar can fuel this behavior.

The lead investigator commented on the relationship between glucose and the dopamine response. “In this study we were able to confirm an abnormal dopamine response to glucose ingestion”. The central location of the brain’s reward circuitry is disoriented by this surge of glucose. To test this, researchers gave a glucose drink to an insulin-sensitive control group and an insulin-resistant group of individuals and we compared the release of dopamine in the brain reward center using PET.”

After each drink, PET imaging was performed with a substance that binds to dopamine receptors. Results showed that after patients drank the sugary glucose, those who were insulin-resistant and had signs of disorderly eating were found to have remarkably lower natural dopamine release in response to glucose ingestion when compared with the insulin-sensitive control subjects.

It’s a funny thing that the old saying use it or lose it holds true in this study. Except the more appropriate wording is overuse it and lose it.

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