Study Title:

Food Cravings, Pleasure, Ghrelin, and Stress Eating

Study Abstract

Animals chronically exposed to stressors with access to diets high in fat and sugar consume and prefer these diets, a result consistent with the association between stress and comfort food ingestion in humans. As social subordination in rhesus monkeys provides an ethologically relevant translational model of psychosocial stress, we tested the hypothesis that differences in food intake between dominant and subordinate female monkeys are due to corticotropin-releasing hormone-(CRH) induced alteration in sensitivity to ghrelin, a potent orexigenic signal. We assessed food intake of animals given a choice between a low (LCD) and high calorie diet (HCD) in response to 4-day treatment with the CRH receptor antagonist, astressin B, and to an acute treatment of ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulated intake of LCD in subordinates but did not further increase consumption of HCD, whereas ghrelin decreased LCD consumption without affecting HCD intake in dominant females. Astressin B decreased cortisol levels and increased preference for and intake of the HCD in subordinates and decreased calorie intake and HCD preference in dominant animals. These results suggest that increased caloric intake by subordinates may, in part, be explained by a greater sensitivity to postprandial increases in ghrelin and that CRH receptor antagonism leading to a decrease in cortisol has mixed effects on food choice depending on an individual's stress background.

Study Information

Michopoulos V, Loucks T, Berga SL, Rivier J, Wilson ME.
Increased ghrelin sensitivity and calorie consumption in subordinate monkeys is affected by short-term astressin B administration.
2010 October
Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.

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