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Seminar – Elena Martín-Garcia

5 December 2023 / 11:00

Venue: Neurocentre Magendie, Conference room

Elena Martín-Garcia 

  1. Laboratory of Neuropharmacology-Neurophar, Department of Medicine and Life Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.
  2. Departament de Psicobiologia i Metodologia de les Ciències de la Salut, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, 08193, Barcelona, Spain.

Invited by Monique Vallée, Neurocentre Magendie


Epigenetic and microbiota signatures in the vulnerability and resilience to food addiction


Food addiction is a multifactorial disorder characterized by a loss of control over food intake that may promote obesity, alter gut microbiota composition, and have an impact on epigenetic marks. We have investigated the potential involvement of the gut microbiota and the epigenetic marks in the mechanisms underlying food addiction. We used the YFAS 2.0 criteria to classify extreme food addiction mouse and human subpopulations to identify gut microbiota and epigenetic signatures associated with vulnerability to this disorder. Animal and human cohorts showed essential similarities in the gut microbiota signatures and the miRNAs linked to food addiction. Notably, a decreased relative abundance of the species Blautia was observed in addicted humans and of Blautia genus in addicted mice. The administration of non-digestible carbohydrates, known to favor Blautia growth, led to an increased relative abundance of Blautia in mice feces in parallel to dramatic improvements in food addiction prevention. A similar improvement was revealed after the oral administration of Blautia as probiotics. We have also investigated the changes in miRNA expression promoted by food addiction in animals and humans. Sharp similitudes were found between the miRNA signatures in our animal cohort’s medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the miRNAs circulating levels in our human cohort, allowing us to identify several miRNAs of potential interest for developing this disorder. TuD inhibition of miRNA-29c-3p in the mouse mPFC promotes response persistence and enhances the vulnerability to develop food addiction, whereas miRNA-665-3p inhibition promotes compulsive-like behavior and enhances food addiction vulnerability. Therefore, miRNA-29c-3p and miRNA-665-3p could act as protective factors against food addiction. The elucidation of these novel mechanisms provides advances toward innovative biomarkers and possible future interventions for food addiction and related disorders.


Elena Martín-García is a senior researcher at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona since 2012 and Associate professor of Psychobiology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) since 2022. She has a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Neuroscience, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the UAB. She did her postdoctoral research at the Neuropharmacology lab from 2007 to 2010. She completed her postdoctoral period at the INSERM in Bordeaux between 2010 and 2011 before establishing herself as a senior researcher in the Neuropharmacology lab at the UPF in 2012. Currently, her research interests include studying the neurobiological basis of addiction and related disorders, including obesity, focusing on developing novel behavioral models to investigate the nature and origins of individual differences in behavior with a particular emphasis on genetic and environmental influences. Her group uses cutting-edge techniques such as chemogenetics, calcium imaging, electrophysiology in vivo, and transgenic and experimental animal models linked with translational research in humans. In addition, she has 67 scientific publications (h-index 26) in peer-reviewed journals related to Neuroscience. She belongs to the World Association on Dual Disorders (WADD) scientific committee. Finally, she has been granted national and international projects as a principal investigator, such as the Plan Nacional sobre Drogas by the Spanish Ministry of Health or the European ERA-NET neuron agency.

Related publications with the topic

Domingo-Rodriguez, L.#, Ruiz de Azua, I.#, Dominguez, E., Senabre, E., Serra, I., Kummer, S., Navandar, M., Baddenhausen, S., Hofmann, C., Andero, R., Gerber, S., Navarrete, M., Dierssen, M., Lutz, B.*, Martín-García, E.*, Maldonado, R.*, 2020. A specific prelimbic-nucleus accumbens pathway controls resilience versus vulnerability to food addiction. Nat. Commun. 11, 1–16. #equal contributions; *shared senior authorship.

García-Blanco, A.#, Domingo-Rodriguez, L.#, Cabana-Domínguez, J.#, Fernàndez-Castillo, N.#, Pineda-Cirera, L., Mayneris-Perxachs, J., Burokas, A., Espinosa-Carrasco, J., Arboleya, S., Latorre, J., Stanton, C., Cormand, B., Fernández-Real, J.-M.*, Martín-García, E.*, Maldonado, R.*, 2022. MicroRNAs signatures associated with vulnerability to food addiction in mice and humans. J. Clin. Invest. 16;132(10):e156281. #equal contributions; *shared senior authorship.

Samulėnaitė S.#, García-Blanco, A.#, Mayneris-Perxachs, J.#, Domingo-Rodriguez, L., Cabana-Domínguez, J., Fernàndez-Castillo, N., Pineda-Cirera, L., Burokas, A., Espinosa-Carrasco, J., Arboleya, S., Latorre, J., Stanton, C., Hosomi, K., Kunisawa, J., Cormand, B., Fernández-Real, J.-M.*, Maldonado, R.*, Martín-García, E.*, 2022. Gut microbiota signatures of vulnerability to food addiction in mice and humans. Gut. (In second revision). #equal contributions; *shared senior authorship.


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5 December 2023
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