Authors: Shariff, Masroor, Quik, Maryka, Holgate, Joan, Morgan, Michael, Patkar, Omkar Laxman,Tam, Vincent,Belmer, Arnauld, &Bartlett, Selena(2016) Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor modulators reduce sugar intake.
PLoS One,11(3), Article number: 0150270 1-15.
Excess sugar consumption has been shown to contribute directly to weight gain, thus contributing to the growing worldwide obesity epidemic. Interestingly, increased sugar consumption has been shown to repeatedly elevate dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain similar to many drugs of abuse. We report that varenicline, an FDA-approved nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist that modulates dopamine in the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain, significantly reduces sucrose consumption, especially in a long-term consumption paradigm. Similar results were observed with other nAChR drugs, namely mecamylamine and cytisine. Furthermore, we show that long-term sucrose consumption increases alpha4beta2 * and decreases alpha6beta2* nAChRs in the nucleus accumbens, a key brain region associated with reward. Taken together, our results suggest that nAChR drugs such as varenicline may represent a novel treatment strategy for reducing sugar consumption.
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