Influence of sucrose ingestion on brainstem and hypothalamic intrinsic oscillations in lean and obese women

Lisa A. Kilpatrick, Kristen Coveleskie, Lynn Connolly, Jennifer S. Labus, Bahar Ebrat, Jean Stains, Zhiguo Jiang, Brandall Y. Suyenobu, Helen E Raybould, Kirsten Tillisch, Emeran A. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background & Aims The study of intrinsic fluctuations in the blood oxygen level-dependent signal of functional magnetic resonance imaging can provide insight into the effect of physiologic states on brain processes. In an effort to better understand the brain-gut communication induced by the absorption and metabolism of nutrients in healthy lean and obese individuals, we investigated whether ingestion of nutritive and non-nutritive sweetened beverages differentially engages the hypothalamus and brainstem vagal pathways in lean and obese women. Methods In a 2-day, double-blind crossover study, 11 lean and 11 obese healthy women underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scans after ingestion of 2 beverages of different sucrose content, but identical sweetness. During scans, subjects rested with eyes closed. Results Blood oxygen level-dependent fluctuations demonstrated significantly greater power in the highest frequency band (slow-3: 0.073-0.198 Hz) after ingestion of high-sucrose compared with low-sucrose beverages in the nucleus tractus solitarius for both groups. Obese women had greater connectivity between the right lateral hypothalamus and a reward-related brain region and weaker connectivity with homeostasis and gustatory-related brain regions than lean women. Conclusions In a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we observed sucrose-related changes in oscillatory dynamics of blood oxygen level-dependent fluctuations in brainstem and hypothalamus in lean and obese women. The observed frequency changes are consistent with a rapid vagally mediated mechanism due to nutrient absorption, rather than sweet taste receptor activation. These findings provide support for altered interaction between homeostatic and reward networks in obese individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1212-1221
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Food Intake
  • Keywords
  • Obesity
  • Resting State
  • Satiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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