Researchers have found a molecular link between defects in the way that insulin functions in signalling to the brain and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Impaired insulin functioning, which occurs in diabetes and obesity, could directly contribute to the heightened problems of mood that many diabetics suffer from, and may also explain why some patients find it hard to take care of their condition.
Team member Aurelio Galli said “Something goes wrong in the brain because insulin isn’t signalling the way that it normally does.” The group was among the first to show that insulin, which controls glucose metabolism in the body, also regulates the supply of dopamine to the brain.
Disruption that occurs in dopamine signalling is thought to lead to psychiatric behaviors and in brain disorders such as Parkinsons disease, schizophrenia, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Problems with the process, due to type 1 diabetes, because of factors such as bad diet, drugs abuse or genetic variatio, may contribute to diabetics having a greater propensity to neuropsychiatric disorders.
The scientists hope that an understanding of the link between insulin and dopamine, or the connection between food and mood, will provide a source of innovative new approaches to therapy for sufferers.

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