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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #397476

Research Project: Energy Met.: Novel Approaches to Facilitating Successful Energy Regulation in Aging--Obesity & Met.: Role of Adipocyte Metabolism in the Development of Obesity and Associated Metabolic Complications

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Noninvasive neuromodulation of the prefrontal cortex in young women with obesity: a randomized clinical trial

item FASSINI, PRISCILLA - Harvard Medical School
item DAS, SAI KRUPA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item MAGEROWSKI, GRETA - Harvard Medical School
item MARCHINI, JULIO - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item ARAUJO DA SILVA JR, WILSON - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item ROZATTE DA SILVA, ISABELA - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item DESOUZARIBIERO SALG, RAFAELLA - Federal University Of Sao Paulo
item DIAS MACHADO, CASSIA - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item MARQUES MIGUEL SUEN, VIVIAN - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item ALONSO-ALONSO, MIGUEL - Harvard Medical School

Submitted to: International Journal of Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2020
Publication Date: 2/19/2020
Citation: Fassini, P., Das, S., Magerowski, G., Marchini, J.S., Araujo da Silva Jr, W., Rozatte da Silva, I., de Souza Ribiero Salguiero, R., Dias Machado, C., Marques Miguel Suen, V., Alonso-Alonso, M. 2020. Noninvasive neuromodulation of the prefrontal cortex in young women with obesity: a randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Obesity. 44:1279-1290.

Interpretive Summary: Obesity is linked with reduced brain and cognitive function. In particular, people with obesity show decreased activity in specific brain regions related to eating behavior. A novel treatment approach that targets brain area(s) by sending a constant, low-intensity current may help reduce appetite and improve weight loss if aimed at the reward centers of the brain. Adult women with obesity were enrolled in a weight loss program and randomly assigned to receive either the novel treatment or a placebo treatment and were followed up at 1, 3 and 6 months after treatment. There was no difference in change in weight between treatment and placebo groups. At 1- and 3-month follow-up time points, the treatment group lost less weight than the placebo group. The treatment group also regained weight at 6 months. Genetic analysis suggested that the gene that plays a role in regulating eating behavior contributed to the contradictory results in the treatment group.

Technical Abstract: Background/objectives: Obesity is associated with reduced neurocognitive performance. Individuals with obesity show decreased activation in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key brain region relevant to the regulation of eating behavior. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has emerged as a potential technique to correct these abnormalities. However, there is limited information to date, particularly in clinical settings and regarding long-term effects of tDCS. This study aimed to investigate the effects of DLPFC-targeted tDCS in young women with obesity. Subject/methods: Randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled parallel-design clinical trial conducted in 38 women, aged 20-40 years, with BMI 30-35 kg/m2. Study design: Phase I: target engagement (immediate effects of tDCS on working memory performance), Phase II: tDCS only (ten sessions, 2 weeks), Phase III: tDCS+hypocaloric diet (six sessions, 30% energy intake reduction, 2 weeks, inpatient), Phase IV: follow-up at 1, 3, and 6 months. Primary outcome: change in body weight. Secondary outcomes: change in eating behavior and appetite. Additional analyses: effect of Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) gene variability. Data were analyzed as linear mixed models. Results: There was no group difference in change in body weight during the tDCS intervention. At follow-up, the active group lost less weight than the sham group. In addition, the active group regained weight at 6-month follow-up, compared with sham. Genetic analysis indicated that COMT Met noncarriers were the subgroup that accounted for this paradoxical response in the active group. Conclusion: Our results suggest that in young women with class I obesity, tDCS targeted to the DLPFC does not facilitate weight loss. Indeed, we found indications that tDCS could have a paradoxical effect in this population, possibly connected with individual differences in dopamine availability. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings.