The finding that many drugs that have abuse potential and other natural stimuli such as food or sexual activity cause similar chemical changes in the brain, an increase in extracellular dopamine (DA) in the shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAccS), indicated some time ago that the reward mechanism is at least very similar for all stimuli and that the mechanism is relatively simple. The presently available information shows that the mechanisms involved are more complex and have multiple elements. Multiple brain regions, multiple receptors, multiple distinct neurons, multiple transmitters, multiple transporters, circuits, peptides, proteins, metabolism of transmitters, and phosphorylation, all participate in reward mechanisms. The system is variable, is changed during development, is sex-dependent, and is influenced by genetic differences. Not all of the elements participate in the reward of all stimuli. Different set of mechanisms are involved in the reward of different drugs of abuse, yet different mechanisms in the reward of natural stimuli such as food or sexual activity; thus there are different systems that distinguish different stimuli. Separate functions of the reward system such as anticipation, evaluation, consummation and identification; all contain function-specific elements. The level of the stimulus also influences the participation of the elements of the reward system, there are possible reactions to even below threshold stimuli, and excessive stimuli can change reward to aversion involving parts of the system. Learning and memory of past reward is an important integral element of reward and addictive behavior. Many of the reward elements are altered by repeated or chronic stimuli, and chronic exposure to one drug is likely to alter the response to another stimulus. To evaluate and identify the reward stimulus thus requires heterogeneity of the reward components in the brain.
"Food intake is regulated by several factors; a homeostatic pathway that maintains energy sources and a hedonic pathway that stimulates the desire to consume foods that are palatable . Palatable food can mobilize opioids and dopamine and increase the levels of galanin, enkephalin, and orexin in the reward system, stimulating overeating as a positive feedback  . Estrogen is also able to interact with the reward system by increasing the expression of orexin and galanin neurons in the hypothalamus , which are involved in reward-based feeding behavior    . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tamoxifen (TAM) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) used in the treatment of breast cancer; however many women complain of weight gain during TAM treatment. The anorectic effects of estradiol (E) and TAM are well known, although the effects of E on the consumption of palatable food are controversial and there is no information regarding the effects of TAM on palatable food consumption. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic treatment with Estradiol and/or Tamoxifen on feeding behavior in ovariectomized rats exposed to standard chow and palatable foods (Froot Loops® or chocolate). Additionally, parameters such as body weight, uterine weight, lipid profile and plasma glucose were also measured. Wistar rats were ovariectomized (OVX) and subsequently injected (ip.) for 40 days with: E, TAM, E+TAM or vehicle (OVX and SHAM - controls). Behavioral tests were initiated 25 days after the start of treatment. Froot Loops® consumption was evaluated in a novel environment during 3 minutes. Standard chow intake was evaluated for two days and chocolate intake during 7 days in the home cage in a free choice model (chocolate or standard chow). Rats injected with E, TAM and E+TAM groups showed a reduction in body weight and standard chow intake, compared with control groups. With regard to palatable food intake, the E, TAM and E+TAM groups demonstrated increased consumption of Froot Loops®, compared with the SHAM and OVX groups. In contrast, all groups increased their consumption of chocolate, compared with standard chow; however the E group consumed more chocolate than the OVX, TAM and E+TAM groups. Despite these differences in chocolate consumption, all groups showed the same caloric intake during the chocolate exposure period; however the TAM and E+TAM groups presented decreased body weight. Treatment with estradiol and tamoxifen showed a favorable lipid profile with low levels of TC, LDL, LDL/HDL ratio and lower levels of plasma glucose. The E group presented high levels of TG and HDL, when compared with the TAM and E+TAM groups. Taken together, results suggest that TAM acted in an estrogen-like manner on the majority of parameters analyzed. However, tamoxifen acts in different manner depending on the type of palatable food and the exposure. In addition, the TAM group demonstrated weight loss, compared with other groups independently of the type of food presented (palatable food or standard chow), showing a low caloric efficiency.
"The ability of adults to form a CPP for VS suggests involvement of reward-related neural systems in the processing of this social stimulus. In particular, the rodent mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic and hypothalamic orexin systems are implicated in sexual, food and psychotropic drug reward (Meisel et al., 1996; Becker et al., 2001; Harris et al., 2005; Muschamp et al., 2007; Ikemoto, 2010; Lajtha & Sershen, 2010; Di Sebastiano et al., 2011), and these systems often operate in concert (Fadel & Deutch, 2002; Korotkova et al., 2003; Narita et al., 2006). Both dopaminergic and orexinergic circuitries undergo functional and structural changes during adolescence (Kuhn et al., 2010; Sawai et al., 2010); however, developmental changes in response to social stimuli, including VS, have not been examined within these circuit- ries. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A successful transition from childhood to adulthood requires adolescent maturation of social information processing. The neurobiological underpinnings of this maturational process remain elusive. This research employed the male Syrian hamster as a tractable animal model for investigating the neural circuitry involved in this critical transition. In this species, adult and juvenile males display different behavioral and neural responses to vaginal secretions, which contain pheromones essential for expression of sexual behavior in adulthood. These studies tested the hypothesis that vaginal secretions acquire positive valence over adolescent development via remodeling of neural circuits underlying sexual reward. Sexually naïve adult, but not juvenile, hamsters showed a conditioned place preference for vaginal secretions. Differences in behavioral response to vaginal secretions between juveniles and adults correlated with a difference in the vaginal secretion-induced neural activation pattern in mesocorticolimbic reward circuitry. Fos immunoreactivity increased in response to vaginal secretions in the medial amygdala and ventral tegmental dopaminergic cells of both juvenile and adult males. However, only in adults was there a Fos response to vaginal secretions in non-dopaminergic cells in interfascicular ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens core and infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex. These results demonstrate that a socially relevant chemosensory stimulus acquires the status of an unconditioned reward during adolescence, and that this adolescent gain in social reward is correlated with experience-independent engagement of specific cell groups in reward circuitry.
European Journal of Neuroscience 11/2012; 37(3). DOI:10.1111/ejn.12058 · 3.18 Impact Factor
"In the present study, CART-immunoreactivity profile in the AcbSh, MFB, VTA, paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus (PVN) and arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus (ARC) was investigated. These areas are known to contain CART, and participate in reward and reinforcement mechanisms (Hurd et al., 1999; Kuhar and Dall Vechia, 1999; Jaworski et al., 2002; Jaworski and Jones, 2006; Lajtha and Sershen, 2010). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The opioid-mesolimbic-dopamine circuitry operates between ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (Acb) and serves as a major reward pathway. We hypothesized that the neuropeptide cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) is involved in the natural reward action mediated by the circuitry. Therefore, the modulation of opioid-mesolimbic-dopamine reward circuitry by CART was investigated using pellet self-administration paradigm in operant chamber. Morphine administered bilaterally in shell region of Acb (AcbSh) significantly increased active lever pressings and pellet self-administration. While CART given bilaterally in the AcbSh significantly increased pellet self-administration, CART antibody produced no effect. Morphine induced pellet self-administration was potentiated by CART, and antagonized by CART antibody administered in AcbSh. A close interaction between dopamine and CART systems was observed. Several tyrosine hydroxylase (marker for dopamine) immunoreactive fibers were seen contacting CART neurons in the AcbSh. Intraperitoneal administration of pramipexole, a dopamine agonist, increased pellet self-administration. The effect was blocked by prior treatment with CART antibody targeted at AcbSh. CART-immunoreactive cells and fibers in the AcbSh, and cells but not fibers in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), were significantly increased in the animals trained in operant chamber. However, CART-immunoreactive profile in the medial forebrain bundle, VTA and arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus did not respond. We suggest that CART, released from the axonal terminals in the framework of AcbSh, may serve as the final output of the endogenous opioid-mesolimbic-dopamine circuitry that processes natural reward.
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