Researchers identify new hunger pathway in the brain

A newly identified hunger pathway in the brain can quickly modify food intake in the presence of food, according to a study of mice published in JNeurosci. This pathway could be a future target for the treatment of eating disorders.

Food intake is modified by long-term signals such as hormones and molecules released during digestion, but a newly recognized circuit in the hypothalamus can change feeding behavior on a shorter timescale.

Using fluorescent calcium imaging and electrophysiological recording, Shane Hentges and Andrew Rau at Colorado State University identified a pathway in the hypothalamus that affects food intake and body weight through release of the neurotransmitter GABA, which can occur due to the detection, rather than consumption, of food.

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