Sucrose consumption increases naloxone-induced c-Fos immunoreactivity in limbic forebrain
Opioids have long been known to have an important role in feeding behavior, particularly related to the rewarding aspects of food. Considerable behavioral evidence suggests that sucrose consumption induces endogenous opioid release, affecting feeding behavior as well as other opioid-mediated behaviors, such as analgesia, dependence, and withdrawal. In the present study, rats were given access to a 10% sucrose solution or water for 3 wk, then they were injected with 10 mg/kg naloxone or saline. Brains were subsequently analyzed for c-Fos immunoreactivity (c-Fos-IR) in limbic and autonomic regions in the forebrain and hindbrain. Main effects of sucrose consumption or naloxone injection were seen in several areas, but a significant interaction was seen only in the central nucleus of the amygdala and in the lateral division of the periaqueductal gray. In the central nucleus of the amygdala, naloxone administration to those rats drinking water significantly increased c-Fos-IR, an effect that was significantly enhanced by sucrose consumption, suggesting an upregulation of endogenous opioid tone in this area. The data from this study indicate that the central nucleus of the amygdala has a key role in the integration of gustatory, hedonic, and autonomic signals as they relate to sucrose consumption, if not to food intake regulation in general. Furthermore, the data from this study lend further support to the hypothesis that sucrose consumption induces the release of endogenous opioids.
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