ISSN: 2319-9865

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Endogenous Opioids

 The endogenous opioid system supports a multitude of functions related to appetitive behavior in humans and animals, and it has been proposed to govern hedonic aspects of feeding thus contributing to the development of obesity. Here we used positron emission tomography to investigate whether feeding results in hedonia-dependent endogenous opioid release in humans. Ten healthy males were recruited for the study. They were scanned with the μ-opioid-specific ligand [11C]carfentanil three times, as follows: after a palatable meal, a nonpalatable meal, and after an overnight fast. Subjective mood, satiety, and circulating hormone levels were measured. Feeding induced significant endogenous opioid release throughout the brain. This response was more pronounced following a nonpalatable meal versus a palatable meal, and independent of the subjective hedonic responses to feeding. We conclude that feeding consistently triggers cerebral opioid release even in the absence of subjective pleasure associated with feeding, suggesting that metabolic and homeostatic rather than exclusively hedonic responses play a role in the feeding-triggered cerebral opioid release

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