Translational Research on Addiction to Palatable Food
Principal Investigator: Nicole M Avena
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): With obesity rates continuing to rise, new and different research approaches are needed to develop strategies to impede this trend. I have been using preclinical models to study the unique theory that overeating of palatable foods, in the form of binge eating, can resemble an "addiction" to food, with concomitant behaviors and neurochemical changes that are like those seen with drug addiction. These data and the findings of others support the theory that overeating of palatable food might produce an extreme motivation that resembles a dependency on certain foods, possibly fueling the urge to overeat and subsequent obesity in some individuals. As it is imperative to test whether animal models of overeating are clinically reliable, in this proposal I plan to obtain clinical research training so that I can study and refine psychometric methods to assess "food addiction" in clinical patients who are obese or have binge eating disorder. Further, I plan to take the next step in my preclinical research by obtaining data on the effect that overeating can have on the expression of genes that are known to have roles in addiction, and to understand how overeating on different types of nutrients (i.e., fat vs. sugar) can affect related brain systems and subsequent behavior. I have an aggregate skill set that will be further developed in this proposal, which will enable me to complete these studies and facilitate my development as an independent research scientist. I have a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University and postdoctoral experience in molecular biology from The Rockefeller University. I am now Assistant Research Professor at University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. My research studies up to this point have focused on using my skills in behavioral neuroscience and molecular biology to study of "food addiction," in part, through the use of an animal model of sugar dependence that I developed in my Ph.D. research. This research has resulted in 33 publications, many speaking invitations and presentations, and several awards. Further, I have a track record of obtaining funding through individual predoctoral and postdoctoral NIH NRSA awards, and small private foundations. Recognizing the importance and usefulness of translational research, I now plan to expand my research skills by obtaining additional training in clinical science. This will allow me to relate my preclinical studies of overeating to clinical populations, and this will help to provide further validity to the theory of "food addiction." This proposal outlines a series of career development activities that will be conducted within the context of translational research on overeating palatable foods and the possible ensuing development of "food addiction." The research and career development activities will occur at the University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, which is an ideal place for this training to take place. Not only are there several researchers in the Addition Medicine division of the Department of Psychiatry who are interested in studying "natural addictions," but there are also resources and individuals throughout the University of Florida that will be an asset to this research project and my development as an independent scientist. A team of mentors has been assembled to guide me through this development phase, each with a unique contribution to the proposed training and research elements. In addition, I have identified collaborators that will contribute their expertise and knowledge to the proposed experiments. Career development plans include advanced coursework in clinical research, epidemiology and statistics, as well as participation in scientific organizations, attendance to lectures and seminars, and training in the responsible conduct of research. The research training will focus on developing my skills as a clinical researcher so I can conduct translational research on overeating and abnormal food intake. In the long term, I hope to have my own teaching and research laboratory in which I can continue to conduct research on the neurobiology of aberrant feeding behavior using both preclinical and clinical models. The proposed experiments are centered on developing a translational line of inquiry. Aim 1 will employ clinical research practices and psychometrics to modify and implement the Yale Food Addiction Scale in obese and binge eating disorder patients and normal controls to 1) determine if patients in these clinical populations show signs of "food addiction" using this scale, and 2) relate food preference to the addiction-like behaviors using newly-developed subscales. Further, to inform and expand on these findings, Aim 2 is a preclinical research component that will assess differences in behaviors and gene expression in reward-related brain areas that result from overeating fat vs. sugar using established animal models. Aim 2 will use behavioral measures and molecular biological techniques in rodent models of overeating. This translational approach to research will permit a better understanding of various aspects of overeating and inform the development of future models to investigate the biological basis of aberrant feeding behavior, which may then be applied to studies in clinical populations. At the end of this training, I will be able to launch a career as an independent investigator and be poised to develop a comprehensive, programmatic translational research program.
Funding Period: 2011-05-15 - 2016-04-30
more information: NIH RePORT
- Baclofen suppresses binge eating of pure fat but not a sugar-rich or sweet-fat dietLaura A Berner
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Behav Pharmacol 20:631-4. 2009..These results support earlier findings of a suppressive effect of baclofen on binge eating of fat and introduce a new finding that the drug differentially affects binge eating of sucrose and a sugar-fat combination...
- Hyperphagia: current concepts and future directions proceedings of the 2nd international conference on hyperphagiaSteven B Heymsfield
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Obesity (Silver Spring) 22:S1-S17. 2014..Substantial gaps in understanding the molecular basis of inherited hyperphagia syndromes are present as are a lack of mechanistic of mechanistic targets that can serve as a basis for pharmacologic and behavioral treatments...
- A high-fat diet or galanin in the PVN decreases phosphorylation of CREB in the nucleus accumbensM E Bocarsly
Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
Neuroscience 248:61-6. 2013....
- Effects of perinatal exposure to palatable diets on body weight and sensitivity to drugs of abuse in ratsMiriam E Bocarsly
Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
Physiol Behav 107:568-75. 2012..Collectively, these data suggest that prenatal as well as pre-weaning exposure to fat- and sugar-rich diets, in addition to increasing body weight, can affect responses to drugs of abuse...
- Further developments in the neurobiology of food and addiction: update on the state of the scienceNicole M Avena
Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA
Nutrition 28:341-3. 2012....
- Animal models of sugar and fat bingeing: relationship to food addiction and increased body weightNicole M Avena
Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Methods Mol Biol 829:351-65. 2012..Studies using the model of fat bingeing suggest that it can produce some, but not all, of the signs of dependence that are seen with sugar binge eating, as well as increase body weight, potentially leading to obesity...
- Dysregulation of brain reward systems in eating disorders: neurochemical information from animal models of binge eating, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosaNicole M Avena
University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA
Neuropharmacology 63:87-96. 2012..This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Central Control of Food Intake'...
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: is it time to reappraise the role of sugar consumption?Richard J Johnson
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80045, USA
Postgrad Med 123:39-49. 2011..We recommend further studies to investigate the possible relationship between chronic sugar intake and ADHD...
- Rats that binge eat fat-rich food do not show somatic signs or anxiety associated with opiate-like withdrawal: implications for nutrient-specific food addiction behaviorsMiriam E Bocarsly
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States
Physiol Behav 104:865-72. 2011....
- Feeding and reward: perspectives from three rat models of binge eatingRebecca L Corwin
Nutritional Sciences Dept, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, United States
Physiol Behav 104:87-97. 2011..These findings may be important in understanding how overeating can influence behavior and brain chemistry...
- Food consumption and weight gain after cessation of chronic amphetamine administrationCaitlin A Orsini
Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610 0256, USA
Appetite 78:76-80. 2014..The current findings may reflect amphetamine-induced sensitization of mechanisms involved in reward motivation, suggesting that weight gain following drug cessation in humans could be due to similar mechanisms. ..
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