The John B. Pierce Laboratory


Compromised dopamine signaling is associated with impulsive behaviors in obesity and alcoholism

Compromised dopamine signaling is associated with impulsive behaviors in obesity and alcoholism and administration of fatty acid amide oleoylethanolamide (OEA) has been shown to rescue dopamine signaling in rodents. Dr. Dana Small and her colleagues tested whether three-week supplementation with a dietary supplement that contains the precursor of the fatty acid amide OEA is able to reduce alcohol intake and impulsive behaviors in people that regularly drink alcohol. In a motor impulsivity task, in which letters flash onscreen and participants are asked to press a button only to ‘X’ and not to ‘K’, those participants that had received three week long dietary supplementation with OEA were better able to withhold responses to ‘K’s. This may translate to positive behavioral changes and reduced adverse consequences of impulsive decision-making. One may imagine for example, that participants on the dietary supplement make fewer bad decisions, such as drinking and driving or may be less likely to relapse when trying to quit drinking. This suggests the intriguing possibility that OEA may be a novel therapeutic target for alcohol use disorders and alcoholism.