A refined high carbohydrate diet is associated with changes in the serotonin pathway and visceral obesity

Genet Res (Camb). 2015 Dec 28:97:e23. doi: 10.1017/S0016672315000233.


Consumption of palatable foods high in refined carbohydrate has been implicated as a contributing factor to the epidemic levels of obesity. Such foods may disrupt appetite regulation in the hypothalamus through alterations in hunger and satiety signalling. This investigation examined whether a palatable high refined carbohydrate (HRC) diet with the potential to induce obesity was linked to modulation of serotonin and dopamine signalling within the hypothalamus of rats. Male Wistar rats were allowed ad libitum access to either a palatable refined carbohydrate enriched (HRC) diet or standard chow (SC). Visceral fat percentage was used as a measure of the animals' weight gain during the trial. Real-time PCR was applied to determine any variation in levels of expression of the serotonin (Slc6A4 or Sert) and dopamine transporter (Slc6A3 or Dat) genes. After 29 weeks, the HRC group showed a significant increase in visceral fat percentage accompanied by increased expression of Sert. Higher levels of circulating triglycerides were also seen. This investigation determined that a refined high carbohydrate diet is associated with visceral obesity, increased circulating lipids in the blood and distorted serotonergic signalling, which possibly alters satiety and hunger signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Male
  • Obesity, Abdominal / etiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Lipids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Sert1 protein, rat