Emotional Eating Phenotype is Associated with Central Dopamine D2 Receptor Binding Independent of Body Mass Index

Sarah A. Eisenstein, Allison N. Bischoff, Danuta M. Gredysa, Jo Ann V. Antenor-Dorsey, Jonathan M. Koller, Amal Al-Lozi, Marta Y. Pepino, Samuel Klein, Joel S. Perlmutter, Stephen M. Moerlein, Kevin J. Black, Tamara Hershey
  • Scientific Reports, June 2015, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1038/srep11283

Brain dopamine pathways influence emotional eating

What is it about?

This study on obesity measured people's emotional eating and responses to reward and punishment, combined with a newer, better brain imaging tool (NMB PET) to specifically measure dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) binding--rather than the usual tool that gives a composite measure of D2 and D3 receptors and synaptic dopamine--in two key spots in the brain. The key results were that self-reported emotional eating correlated with D2R binding in the striatum, and non-food reward behavior correlated with D2R binding in the midbrain.

Why is it important?

These results provide some of the best clues yet in humans as to how dopamine pathways in the brain may affect traits that lead to obesity via unhealthy eatiing. The results also help explain why D2Rs (specifically) may relate to human obesity even though they do not correlate directly with BMI (degree of obesity).


Dr Kevin J. Black
Washington University in St. Louis

It was a privilege to be a part of this study that drew upon the skills and involvement of many experts. The various authors represent expertise in diabetes, obesity, human food preferences, clinical psychiatry, the psychology and neuroscience of reward, radiopharmacy, neuropharmacology, and PET imaging.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Kevin J. Black