Common cellular and molecular mechanisms in obesity and drug addiction

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011 Oct 20;12(11):638-51. doi: 10.1038/nrn3105.


The hedonic properties of food can stimulate feeding behaviour even when energy requirements have been met, contributing to weight gain and obesity. Similarly, the hedonic effects of drugs of abuse can motivate their excessive intake, culminating in addiction. Common brain substrates regulate the hedonic properties of palatable food and addictive drugs, and recent reports suggest that excessive consumption of food or drugs of abuse induces similar neuroadaptive responses in brain reward circuitries. Here, we review evidence suggesting that obesity and drug addiction may share common molecular, cellular and systems-level mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism*