Food and Behaviour Research

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Natural and Drug Rewards Engage Distinct Pathways that Converge on Coordinated Hypothalamic and Reward Circuits

Alhadeff AL, Goldstein N, Park O, Klima ML, Vargas A, Betley JN (2019) Neuron. 2019 Jun.  pii: S0896-6273(19)30526-4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.05.050. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Motivated behavior is influenced by neural networks that integrate physiological needs. Here, we describe coordinated regulation of hypothalamic feeding and midbrain reward circuits in awake behaving mice.

We find that alcohol and other non-nutritive drugs inhibit activity in 
hypothalamic feeding neurons. Interestingly, nutrients and drugs utilize different pathways for the inhibition of hypothalamic neuron activity, as alcohol signals hypothalamic neurons in a vagal-independent manner, while fat and satiation signals require the vagus nerve. Concomitantly, nutrients, alcohol, and drugs also increase midbrain dopamine signaling. We provide evidence that these changes are interdependent, as modulation of either hypothalamic neurons or midbrain dopamine signaling influences reward-evoked activity changes in the other population.

Taken together, our results demonstrate that (1) food and drugs can 
engage at least two peripheral→central pathways to influence hypothalamic neuron activity, and (2) hypothalamic and dopamine circuits interact in response to rewards.


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