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The role of the opioid system in binge eating disorder.

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Giuliano, Chiara 
Cottone, Pietro 


Binge eating disorder is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable consumption of palatable food within brief periods of time. Excessive intake of palatable food is thought to be driven by hedonic, rather than energy homeostatic, mechanisms. However, reward processing does not only comprise consummatory actions; a key component is represented by the anticipatory phase directed at procuring the reward. This phase is highly influenced by environmental food-associated stimuli, which can robustly enhance the desire to eat even in the absence of physiological needs. The opioid system (endogenous peptides and their receptors) has been strongly linked to the rewarding aspects of palatable food intake, and perhaps represents the key system involved in hedonic overeating. Here we review evidence suggesting that the opioid system can also be regarded as one of the systems that regulates the anticipatory incentive processes preceding binge eating hedonic episodes.



Animal models, binge eating, incentive salience, opioids, palatable food, Animals, Anticipation, Psychological, Binge-Eating Disorder, Brain, Humans, Receptors, Opioid, Reward

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Medical Research Council (G1002231)
CG was funded by Medical Research Council Programme Grant (no. G1002231) and PC was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH, no. DA030425) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH/NIH, no. MH091945).