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Sweet dopamine: sucrose preferences relate differentially to striatal D2 receptor binding and age in obesity

08 / 08 / 16

Pepino MY, Eisenstein SA, Bischoff AN et al. Sweet dopamine: sucrose preferences relate differentially to striatal D2 receptor binding and age in obesity. Diabetes, June 2016: 65 (7).

Eating sweet foods releases dopamine in the brain striatum. Both striatal D2 dopamine receptors and sweet preferences decline with age, and may be altered in obesity.

This study evaluated sweet preferences, perception of sweetness and striatal D2 receptor binding potential in 20 subjects with obesity and 24 non-obese subjects. Both groups had similar sucrose preferences, sweetness perception, striatal D2 receptor binding potential and age-related declines in D2 receptor binding potential. The only difference found between the groups was for the obese group in which D2 receptor binding potential and age did not correlate with sucrose preferences as they did in the non-obese group.

This study suggests that age related decline in D2 receptors was not linked to a decline in sweetness preferences and other mechanisms are at play. It also suggests these unknown mechanisms work differently in obesity.