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Obesity is associated with high serotonin 4 receptor availability in the brain reward circuitry

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  • M E Haahr
  • ,
  • Peter Mondrup Rasmussen
  • K Madsen, Denmark
  • Lisbeth Marner, SUND ph.d. skole, Denmark
  • Cecilia Friis Ratner, Metabolic Receptology, Denmark
  • Nicholas Mathew Gillings, SUND ph.d. skole, Denmark
  • William Frans Christiaan Baaré, SUND ph.d. skole, Denmark
  • G M Knudsen, Denmark
The neurobiology underlying obesity is not fully understood. The neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) is established as a satiety-generating signal, but its rewarding role in feeding is less well elucidated. From animal experiments there is now evidence that the 5-HT(4) receptor (5-HT(4)R) is involved in food intake, and that pharmacological or genetic manipulation of the receptor in reward-related brain areas alters food intake. Here, we used positron emission tomography in humans to examine the association between cerebral 5-HT(4)Rs and common obesity. We found in humans a strong positive association between body mass index and the 5-HT(4)R density bilaterally in the two reward ‘hot spots’ nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum, and additionally in the left hippocampal region and orbitofrontal cortex. These findings suggest that the 5-HT(4)R is critically involved in reward circuits that regulate people's food intake. They also suggest that pharmacological stimulation of the cerebral 5-HT(4)R may reduce reward-related overeating in humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-8
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Research areas

  • Adult, Aged, Brain, Eating, Female, Humans, Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted, Male, Middle Aged, Obesity, Positron-Emission Tomography, Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT4, Reward, Young Adult

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