Food addiction is characterized by a loss of behavioral control over food intake and is associated with obesity and other eating disorders. The mechanisms underlying this behavioral disorder are largely unknown. We aimed to investigate the changes in miRNA expression promoted by food addiction in animals and humans and their involvement in the mechanisms underlying the behavioral hallmarks of this disorder. We found sharp similitudes between miRNA signatures in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of our animal cohort and circulating miRNA levels in our human cohort, which allowed us to identify several miRNAs of potential interest in the development of this disorder. Tough decoy (TuD) inhibition of miRNA-29c-3p in the mouse mPFC promoted persistence of the response and enhanced vulnerability to developing food addiction, whereas miRNA-665-3p inhibition promoted compulsion-like behavior and also enhanced food addiction vulnerability. In contrast, we found that miRNA-137-3p inhibition in the mPFC did not lead to the development of food addiction. Therefore, miRNA-29c-3p and miRNA-665-3p could be acting as protective factors with regard to food addiction. We believe the elucidation of these epigenetic mechanisms will lead to advances toward identifying innovative biomarkers and possible future interventions for food addiction and related disorders based on the strategies now available to modify miRNA activity and expression.
miRNA signatures associated with vulnerability to food addiction in mice and humans
García-Blanco et al.
Journal of Clinical Investigation