BMB Rep. 2013; 46(11): 519-526  
Dopamine signaling in food addiction: role of dopamine D2 receptors
Ja-Hyun Baik*
Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Life Sciences, Korea University, Seoul 136-701, Korea
Correspondence to: Tel: +82-2-3290-3455; Fax: +82-2-927-9028; E-mail:
Received: September 12, 2013; Published online: November 30, 2013.
© Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. All rights reserved.

Dopamine (DA) regulates emotional and motivational behavior through the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway. Changes in DA signaling in mesolimbic neurotransmission are widely believed to modify reward-related behaviors and are therefore closely associated with drug addiction. Recent evidence now suggests that as with drug addiction, obesity with compulsive eating behaviors involves reward circuitry of the brain, particularly the circuitry involving dopaminergic neural substrates. Increasing amounts of data from human imaging studies, together with genetic analysis, have demonstrated that obese people and drug addicts tend to show altered expression of DA D2 receptors in specific brain areas, and that similar brain areas are activated by food-related and drug-related cues. This review focuses on the functions of the DA system, with specific focus on the physiological interpretation and the role of DA D2 receptor signaling in food addiction.
Keywords: Addiction, Dopamine, Dopamine receptor, Food reward, Reward circuit

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