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Investigation of the Effects of Gestational Programing of Tyrosine Hydroxylase Expression in the Reward Pathway

By Laura Maxwell and Danielle Ramsey


About 570,000 people die each year in the United States of America due to drug addiction, and an estimated 300,000 Americans die annually from complications related to obesity. Studies have shown low birth weight (LBW) offspring exhibit hyperphagia and increased incidence of addiction. Thus, we hypothesize that LBW offspring have differences in the physiology and functioning of the reward pathways in the brain, which may lead to enhanced self-administration of rewarding substances, including food. To test this hypothesis, examined the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme for dopamine production, the major neurotransmitter in the reward pathway, in LBW offspring. TH positive cells in theventral tregmental area of the reward pathway was significantly difference in LBW compared with control offspring. Understanding the impact of the gestational environment on reward processing in the brain will further the fight against both addiction and obesity

Publisher: Scholarly Commons
Year: 2018
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