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Compensatory weight gain due to dopaminergic hypofunction: new evidence and own incidental observations

Julia Reinholz1*, Oliver Skopp12, Caterina Breitenstein, Iwo Bohr1, Hilke Winterhoff2 and Stefan Knecht1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, University of Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Strasse 33, 48129 Muenster, Germany

2 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Muenster, Domagkstrasse 12, 48149 Muenster, Germany

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2008, 5:35  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-35

Published: 1 December 2008


There is increasing evidence for a role of dopamine in the development of obesity. More specifically, dopaminergic hypofunction might lead to (over)compensatory food intake. Overeating and resulting weight gain may be induced by genetic predisposition for lower dopaminergic activity, but might also be a behavioral mechanism of compensating for decreased dopamine signaling after dopaminergic overstimulation, for example after smoking cessation or overconsumption of high palatable food. This hypothesis is in line with our incidental finding of increased weight gain after discontinuation of pharmaceutical dopaminergic overstimulation in rats. These findings support the crucial role of dopaminergic signaling for eating behaviors and offer an explanation for weight-gain after cessation of activities associated with high dopaminergic signaling. They further support the possibility that dopaminergic medication could be used to moderate food intake.