Food and Behaviour Research

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CRF system recruitment mediates dark side of compulsive eating

Cottone P, Sabino V, Roberto M, Bajo M, Pockros L, Frihauf JB, Fekete EM, Steardo L, Rice KC, Grigoriadis DE, Conti B, Koob GF, Zorrilla EP. (2009) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.  106(47) 20016-20. Epub 2009 Nov 9. 

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Dieting to control body weight involves cycles of deprivation from palatable food that can promote compulsive eating. The present study shows that rats withdrawn from intermittent access to palatable food exhibit overeating of palatable food upon renewed access and an affective withdrawal-like state characterized by corticotropin-releasing factor-1 (CRF(1)) receptor antagonist-reversible behaviors, including hypophagia, motivational deficits to obtain less palatable food, and anxiogenic-like behavior. Withdrawal was accompanied by increased CRF expression and CRF(1) electrophysiological responsiveness in the central nucleus of the amygdala. We propose that recruitment of anti-reward extrahypothalamic CRF-CRF(1) systems during withdrawal from palatable food, analogous to abstinence from abused drugs, may promote compulsive selection of palatable food, undereating of healthier alternatives, and a negative emotional state when intake of palatable food is prevented.