Using a mouse model, a research team led by a biomedical scientist at the University of California, Riverside, has found that overactive endocannabinoid signaling in the gut drives overeating in diet-induced obesity by blocking gut-brain satiation signaling.
Endocannabinoids are cannabis-like molecules made naturally by the body to regulate several processes: immune, behavioral, and neuronal. As with cannabis, endocannabinoids can enhance feeding behavior.
The researchers detected high activity of endocannabinoids at cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the gut of mice that were fed a high-fat and sugar — or Western — diet for 60 days. This overactivity, they found, prevented the food-induced secretion of the satiation peptide cholecystokinin, a short chain of amino acids whose function is to inhibit eating. This resulted in the mice overeating. Cannabinoid CB1 receptors and cholecystokinin are present in all mammals, including humans.
Study results appear in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, an open-access journal.
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