The thrifty lipids: Endocannabinoids and the neural control of energy conservation

Departments of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, Irvine, CA, USA.
Trends in Neurosciences (Impact Factor: 13.56). 05/2012; 35(7):403-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2012.04.006
Source: PubMed


The 'thrifty gene hypothesis' posits that evolution preferentially selects physiological mechanisms that optimize energy storage to increase survival under alternating conditions of abundance and scarcity of food. Recent experiments suggest that endocannabinoids - a class of lipid-derived mediators that activate cannabinoid receptors in many cells of the body - are key agents of energy conservation. The new evidence indicates that these compounds increase energy intake and decrease energy expenditure by controlling the activity of peripheral and central neural pathways involved in the sensing and hedonic processing of sweet and fatty foods, as well as in the storage of their energy content for future use.

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    • "Given the short cumulative length of regular chow and palatable accesses (3 days), this procedure would have the advantage of consisting of faster experimental cycling compared to other existing intermittent, extended access protocols (Cottone et al. 2008a, 2009a). Since the cannabinoid (CB) system modulates feeding (Matias, Bisogno & Di Marzo 2006; Mechoulam et al. 2006; Kunos 2007; DiPatrizio & Piomelli 2012) and is engaged by palatable diets (DiPatrizio & Simansky 2008; Timofeeva et al. 2009; Bello et al. 2012), the second aim of our study was to investigate whether the consummatory and motivational outcomes of intermittent, extended access to highly palatable food were CB type-1 (CB1) receptor dependent. For this purpose, in this animal model, we tested the effects of the CB1 receptor inverse agonist SR141716 on (1) escalated excessive intake of palatable diet and (2) time spent and the amount of food eaten (modeling risk-taking behavior and compulsive eating, respectively) in an aversive, open compartment, where the palatable diet was offered, using a light/dark conflict test. "
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    ABSTRACT: Dieting and the increased availability of highly palatable food are considered major contributing factors to the large incidence of eating disorders and obesity. This study was aimed at investigating the role of the cannabinoid (CB) system in a novel animal model of compulsive eating, based on a rapid palatable diet cycling protocol. Male Wistar rats were fed either continuously a regular chow diet (Chow/Chow, control group) or intermittently a regular chow diet for 2 days and a palatable, high-sucrose diet for 1 day (Chow/Palatable). Chow/Palatable rats showed spontaneous and progressively increasing hypophagia and body weight loss when fed the regular chow diet, and excessive food intake and body weight gain when fed the palatable diet. Diet-cycled rats dramatically escalated the intake of the palatable diet during the first hour of renewed access (7.5-fold compared to controls), and after withdrawal, they showed compulsive eating and heightened risk-taking behavior. The inverse agonist of the CB1 receptor, SR141716 reduced the excessive intake of palatable food with higher potency and the body weight with greater efficacy in Chow/Palatable rats, compared to controls. Moreover, SR141716 reduced compulsive eating and risk-taking behavior in Chow/Palatable rats. Finally, consistent with the behavioral and pharmacological observations, withdrawal from the palatable diet decreased the gene expression of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase in the ventromedial hypothalamus while increasing that of CB1 receptors in the dorsal striatum in Chow/Palatable rats, compared to controls. These findings will help understand the role of the CB system in compulsive eating.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Addiction Biology
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    • "Several studies have investigated the neurological role of endocannabinoids on food intake [15]. A study investigated the role of endocannabinoids in regulating food intake in the tongue, gut and different brain regions, suggesting that the cannabinoid system plays a role in modulating the activity of neural pathways that regulate food intake and energy expenditure [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Carnitine Palmitoyltransferase-1c (CPT1c) is a neuron specific homologue of the carnitine acyltransferase family of enzymes. CPT1 isoenzymes transfer long chain acyl groups to carnitine. This constitutes a rate setting step for mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation by facilitating the initial step in acyl transfer to the mitochondrial matrix. In general, neurons do not heavily utilize fatty acids for bioenergetic needs and definitive enzymatic activity has been unable to be demonstrated for CPT1c. Although there are studies suggesting an enzymatic role of CPT1c, its role in neurochemistry remains elusive. Results In order to better understand how CPT1c functions in neural metabolism, we performed unbiased metabolomic profiling on wild-type (WT) and CPT1c knockout (KO) mouse brains. Consistent with the notion that CPT1c is not involved in fatty acid beta-oxidation, there were no changes in metabolites associated with fatty acid oxidation. Endocannabinoids were suppressed in the CPT1c KO, which may explain the suppression of food intake seen in CPT1c KO mice. Although products of beta-oxidation were unchanged, small changes in carnitine and carnitine metabolites were observed. Finally, we observed changes in redox homeostasis including a greater than 2-fold increase in oxidized glutathione. This indicates that CPT1c may play a role in neural oxidative metabolism. Conclusions Steady-state metabolomic analysis of CPT1c WT and KO mouse brains identified a small number of metabolites that differed between CPT1c WT and KO mice. The subtle changes in a broad range of metabolites in vivo indicate that CPT1c does not play a significant or required role in fatty acid oxidation; however, it could play an alternative role in neuronal oxidative metabolism.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · BMC Biochemistry
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    • "Fat and membrane lipid metabolites are newly appreciated as CNS signaling molecules ( Pingle et al . , 2007 ; Scherer and Buettner , 2009 ; DiPatrizio and Piomelli , 2012 ) . Lipoproteins and metabo - lites including anandamide ( AEA ) likely act as endocannabinoid and / or endovanilloid signaling molecules that alter reflex function when introduced into the NTS ( Geraghty and Mazzone , 2002 ; Brozoski et al . "
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    ABSTRACT: The brainstem nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) holds the first central neurons in major homeostatic reflex pathways. These homeostatic reflexes regulate and coordinate multiple organ systems from gastrointestinal to cardiopulmonary functions. The core of many of these pathways arise from cranial visceral afferent neurons that enter the brain as the solitary tract (ST) with more than two-thirds arising from the gastrointestinal system. About one quarter of ST afferents have myelinated axons but the majority are classed as unmyelinated C-fibers. All ST afferents release the fast neurotransmitter glutamate with remarkably similar, high-probability release characteristics. Second order NTS neurons receive surprisingly limited primary afferent information with one or two individual inputs converging on single second order NTS neurons. A- and C-fiber afferents never mix at NTS second order neurons. Many transmitters modify the basic glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic current often by reducing glutamate release or interrupting terminal depolarization. Thus, a distinguishing feature of ST transmission is presynaptic expression of G-protein coupled receptors for peptides common to peripheral or forebrain (e.g., hypothalamus) neuron sources. Presynaptic receptors for angiotensin (AT1), vasopressin (V1a), oxytocin, opioid (MOR), ghrelin (GHSR1), and cholecystokinin differentially control glutamate release on particular subsets of neurons with most other ST afferents unaffected. Lastly, lipid-like signals are transduced by two key ST presynaptic receptors, the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 and the cannabinoid receptor that oppositely control glutamate release. Increasing evidence suggests that peripheral nervous signaling mechanisms are repurposed at central terminals to control excitation and are major sites of signal integration of peripheral and central inputs particularly from the hypothalamus.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
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