Effects of Binge-Like Intake on Endocannabinoid Expression in VTA Area in Rats

Matthew Schottenfeld

Sprague Dawley Rat, like the on used in the experiment.

This is a Sprague Dawley rat, like the one used in the experiment.

Undergraduate Student Project


Have you ever lost control of your eating behavior and binged on food? Did you know that this may be correlated with changes in the expression of different genes in your brain? My name is Matthew Schottenfeld, I'm a senior Exercise Science major and with funding from an ELN grant I have worked with Dr.Elizabeth Mietlicki-Baase for the past couple of years on looking at changes in rodent brains during binge-like eating behavior. Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the US, and there is still a lot that we don't understand about it. When looking for potential treatments, examining changes in genetic expression helps us understand the biochemical basis of the disease, and for my research we analyzed the endocannabinoid system.


Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the US, and previous research has suggested a link between BED and dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system. This study aimed to investigate the effects of binge-like eating behavior in rodent models on genetic expression of endocannabinoid and other genes in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain.  Adult male rats were given access to palatable food for 1 hour per day either every day of the week (Daily, D), or only on three days of the week (Intermittent, INT). After ~8.5 weeks of dietary maintenance, tissue samples from the VTA were collected and analyzed using qPCR to measure expression of components of the endocannabinoid system. There was a trend for increased GLP-1R expression (P < 0.1) in the VTA of INT rats compared to D rats. There were no significant changes in the expression of the endocannabinoid genes.

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