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Neural Activity in Response to Food Images is Mediated by the ASB9 and DNM3 Gene and is Associated with Methylation and Ghrelin.

van der Kamp, C.H. (2016) Neural Activity in Response to Food Images is Mediated by the ASB9 and DNM3 Gene and is Associated with Methylation and Ghrelin. Master's Thesis / Essay, Human-Machine Communication.

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Gaining insights in how genetics influence obesity, brain activity, and eating behavior will add important knowledge for developing strategies for weight-loss treatment, as obesity may stem from different causes and as individual feeding behavior may depend on genetic differences. To this end, we have examined if the ASB9, DNM3 and RSPO04 gene affects neural activity via fMRI when individuals are presented with images of food. Recently five DNA methylation sites related to BMI have been discovered. Directly expanding upon these results, we are the first to test whether methylation levels of these five sites are predictive of brain responses to food images, and if they correlate with the metabolic hormone ghrelin. We found that individuals with the high risk allele for the DNM3 or ASB9 showed increased neural activity in widespread regions that have been associated with emotion, memory, self-image and executive functioning. Next, we found that as methylation at the cg07814318 site decreased, brain activity increased in brain areas important for salience as well as in areas with previous associations to food signaling and obesity. Moreover, methylation levels at cg07814318 also strongly correlate with ghrelin. Our results suggest that the genotypes of the ASB9 and DNM3 gene are associated with differential neural processing of food images. We might conclude that that food images are less salient for people with the ASB9 and DNM3 risk alleles, coinciding with diminished emotional response and impulse control. Our findings are novel for being the first to detect brain areas affected by methylation in overweight individuals, and add support to previous reports which attempt to link ghrelin, brain activity, and genetic differences between people of different weight categories.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Human-Machine Communication
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:10
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:10

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