According to a study published in late 2012, anorexia nervosa and physical hyperactivity are linked by a common molecular mechanism. This discovery could help develop a treatment for this disorder that affects mostly teenagers.
Anorexia nervosa is a terrible eating disorder that causes people who suffer continually fight against hunger. The result is a logical loss of appetite but also a significant weight loss and other more serious problems such as decalcification or absence of rules. For now, the mechanisms of this disorder remain unclear although it is a little better known today.
Thus, professionals in particular that cases of anorexia were often accompanied by hyperactivity. However, so far they thought that this behavior was intentional: it would have been intended to lose more weight by burning calories. One hypothesis is that to deny a team from INSERM and CNRS researchers discovering a common mechanism would explain the link between the two behaviors.
Indeed, by studying mice genetically rendered anorexic, scientists observed that had a molecular abnormality in a brain region involved in the reward system. This anomaly corresponds to the “overexpression” of 5-HT4 receptor for serotonin, a cellular receptor that controls motor hyperactivity in mice. In other words, a receiver would cause abnormality overproduction capturing serotonin itself lead to too much reaction in neuronal level. However, serotonin levels are also linked to food.
Operate the receiver to treat the disease
“We have identified for the first time to our knowledge a common molecular pathway involved in anorexia and hyperactivity,” says Valerie Compan who led the work published in the journal Translational Psychiatry. This molecular pathway is the same one that is taken in case of addiction, “which tends to confirm that anorexia is an addiction,” says Compan.
Added to this, the researchers also discovered that 5-HT4 receptor could become inactive, cause a “food consumption” as is the case in bulimia. Thus, “the disruptions this receptor could explain the oscillations between anorexia and bulimia in some patients,” said science quoted by AFP. It remains now to continue the work and try to expand in humans.
If the work done in mice are confirmed, this would open a new avenue for developing potential treatments. “This receptor may be an effective therapeutic target for inactivating, patients willing to feed again and activating it, they could moderate their consumption of food,” said Valerie Compan.