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Keywords:

  • dopamine;
  • glucose;
  • obesity;
  • positron emission tomography

Abstract

Dopamine is known to regulate food intake by modulating food reward via the mesolimbic circuitry of the brain. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of high energy input (i.v. glucose) on striatal and thalamic dopamine release in overweight and lean individuals. We hypothesized that glucose would induce dopamine release and positive ratings (e.g., satiety) in Behavioral Analog Scales, particularly in food-deprived lean subjects. [11C]raclopride PET was performed for 12 lean (mean BMI = 22 kg/m2) and 12 overweight (mean BMI = 33 kg/m2) healthy subjects. Each subject was imaged twice in a blinded counter-balanced setting, after 300 mg/kg i.v. glucose and after i.v. placebo. Dopamine D2 receptor binding potentials (BPs) were estimated. The voxel-based analysis of the baseline scans indicated lower striatal BPs in the overweight group and a negative correlation between BMIs and BPs. Intravenous glucose did not have a significant effect on BPs in overweight or lean subjects (male and female groups combined). However, BP changes were opposite in the two gender groups. In male subjects, significant BP reductions after glucose were seen in the right and left caudate nucleus, left putamen, and right thalamus. In female subjects, increases in BP secondary to glucose were seen in the right caudate nucleus and right and left putamen. The sexually dimorphic effect of glucose was seen in both overweight and lean subjects. Although gender differences were not among the a priori hypotheses of the present study and, therefore, they must be considered to be preliminary findings, we postulate that this observation is a reflection of an interaction between glucose, sex steroids (estrogen), leptin, and dopamine. Synapse 61:748–756, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.