Translational Research on Addiction to Palatable Food

Summary

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

Top Publications

  1. pmc Baclofen suppresses binge eating of pure fat but not a sugar-rich or sweet-fat diet
    Laura A Berner
    Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
    Behav Pharmacol 20:631-4. 2009
  2. pmc Hyperphagia: current concepts and future directions proceedings of the 2nd international conference on hyperphagia
    Steven B Heymsfield
    Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
    Obesity (Silver Spring) 22:S1-S17. 2014
  3. ncbi A high-fat diet or galanin in the PVN decreases phosphorylation of CREB in the nucleus accumbens
    M E Bocarsly
    Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
    Neuroscience 248:61-6. 2013
  4. pmc Effects of perinatal exposure to palatable diets on body weight and sensitivity to drugs of abuse in rats
    Miriam E Bocarsly
    Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
    Physiol Behav 107:568-75. 2012
  5. pmc Further developments in the neurobiology of food and addiction: update on the state of the science
    Nicole M Avena
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA
    Nutrition 28:341-3. 2012
  6. ncbi Animal models of sugar and fat bingeing: relationship to food addiction and increased body weight
    Nicole M Avena
    Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
    Methods Mol Biol 829:351-65. 2012
  7. pmc Dysregulation of brain reward systems in eating disorders: neurochemical information from animal models of binge eating, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa
    Nicole M Avena
    University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA
    Neuropharmacology 63:87-96. 2012
  8. pmc 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
  9. pmc 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 behaviors
    Miriam E Bocarsly
    Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States
    Physiol Behav 104:865-72. 2011
  10. pmc Feeding and reward: perspectives from three rat models of binge eating
    Rebecca 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

Research Grants

Detail Information

Publications11

  1. pmc Baclofen suppresses binge eating of pure fat but not a sugar-rich or sweet-fat diet
    Laura 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...
  2. pmc Hyperphagia: current concepts and future directions proceedings of the 2nd international conference on hyperphagia
    Steven 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...
  3. ncbi A high-fat diet or galanin in the PVN decreases phosphorylation of CREB in the nucleus accumbens
    M E Bocarsly
    Department of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
    Neuroscience 248:61-6. 2013
    ....
  4. pmc Effects of perinatal exposure to palatable diets on body weight and sensitivity to drugs of abuse in rats
    Miriam 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...
  5. pmc Further developments in the neurobiology of food and addiction: update on the state of the science
    Nicole M Avena
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA
    Nutrition 28:341-3. 2012
    ....
  6. ncbi Animal models of sugar and fat bingeing: relationship to food addiction and increased body weight
    Nicole 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...
  7. pmc Dysregulation of brain reward systems in eating disorders: neurochemical information from animal models of binge eating, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa
    Nicole 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'...
  8. pmc 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...
  9. pmc 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 behaviors
    Miriam E Bocarsly
    Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States
    Physiol Behav 104:865-72. 2011
    ....
  10. pmc Feeding and reward: perspectives from three rat models of binge eating
    Rebecca 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...
  11. pmc Food consumption and weight gain after cessation of chronic amphetamine administration
    Caitlin 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. ..

Research Grants30

  1. The Shelf Live Evaluation of Investigational Dosage Forms
    Jonathan White; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..This contract is essential for continued assurance of the quality of drugs undergoing clinical investigation for different types of cancer by Cancer Therapeutics Evaluation Program. ..
  2. Behavioral Pharmacology of Drug Dependence
    Charles P France; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Continued support under this K award will allow the PI to devote at least 75% of his effort to research and mentoring in drug abuse. ..
  3. Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center
    AARON J JANOWSKY; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Data and samples are shared and compared across components. Thus, the MARC addresses clinically relevant themes using integrated, innovative, multidisciplinary, and translational approaches. ..
  4. Neurohormonal and Behavioral Correlates of Obesity and Weight Loss
    Paul R Burghardt; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..The project will train a promising scientist and help clarify phenotypic aspects of the pathopyshiology of obesity, a significant public health priority. ..
  5. NEURAL HIERARCHY IN THE MODULATION OF INGESTIVE BEHAVIOR
    Harvey J Grill; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..A variety of preliminary results support the hypotheses under investigation. ..
  6. Food intake control by leptin signaling in the hippocampus
    SCOTT EDWARD KANOSKI; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Results will contribute to the development of pharmacological obesity treatment by informing about the neuroendocrine and intracellular/molecular systems that control food intake and food-motivated behavior. ..
  7. Caloric Restricted Rodent Colony
    RICK MORIN; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..The purpose of this project is to develop, maintain and distribute a standing colony ofaged, calorically restricted rodents ofdefined strains for use by investigators in studies of aging. ..
  8. Effect of Circulating Glucose on Eating Behavior and Brain Activation in Diabetes
    RENATA D BELFORT DE AGUIAR; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..If granted this award, Dr. Belfort De Aguiar will be able to achieve her long term career goal of becoming a clinical translational scientist in the field of neuroscience/metabolism. ..
  9. NTS neurons integrate leptin and satiation signals to influence reward signaling
    AMBER ALHADEFF; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Research proposed in this application has the potential to deepen the understanding of the anatomical and molecular mechanisms that mediate the control of palatable food intake. ..
  10. CENTER FOR BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
    Timothy Turner; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..abstract_text> ..
  11. CDART - Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation
    Michael T Bardo; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..The long-range goal is to improve the design and implementation of targeted anti-drug preventive interventions. ..
  12. Emory Alcohol and Lung Biology Center
    DAVID MARSHALL GUIDOT; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..abstract_text> ..
  13. Nucleus accumbens opioid-dependent mechanisms of binge eating
    Saleem M Nicola; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Because the same neural circuits are involved in drug addiction, our studies will also contribute towards understanding the neural mechanisms of addiction, and of reward-seeking behavior in general. ..
  14. The Role of Orexin in the Co-Occurrence of Binge Eating and Drug Addiction
    Kimberlei A Richardson; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ....
  15. Development of Orexin-1 Receptor Antagonists for Drug Addiction
    Paul J Kenny; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..This integrated multidisciplinary research plan will capitalize on the unique drug discovery capabilities at Scripps Florida, and promises to yield novel therapeutic entities for the prevention of relapse in human tobacco smokers. ..
  16. Translational Research in Cystic Fibrosis
    Mitchell L Drumm; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..This goal is also a function of the Biomedical Research Cores. ..
  17. Center for Native Oral Health Research (CNOHR)
    Judith E N Albino; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ....
  18. Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction Treatment
    Steven R Childers; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..These projects utilize several animal models and technologies uniquely developed by the Center investigators over the previous years of its funding history. ..
  19. Substance Abuse Research - Medications Development Center
    JOY MARIE SCHMITZ; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..abstract_text> ..
  20. Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Core Center
    Kamel Khalili; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..abstract_text> ..