A new study from scientists in EPFL and Ohio led by our co-president Carmen Sandi has found a biological connection explaining why there is an increased predisposition to develop obesity and being less sociable in individuals that have experienced stress during early puberty.
The study, published in Sciences Advances, involved mice subjected to unpredictable chronic stress at peripuberty - a critical window between the end of the childhood and the beginning of adolescence. An increased fat mass and larger adipocytes, together with decreased sociability have been observed in the stressed animals. In addition, they have revealed the drop of a specific enzyme involved in cellular metabolism in the adipose tissues and blood, as well as in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region regulating motivated behaviors. Acting on this enzyme allowed the researchers to prevent both impairments in sociability and alterations in nucleus accumbens.