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      Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) and 5-Hydroxytryptamine 2c (5-HT 2c) Receptor Agonists in the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) Inhibit Ghrelin-Stimulated Appetitive Reward


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          Current literature indicates that the orexigenic peptide ghrelin increases appetitive motivation via signaling in the mesolimbic reward system. Another gastric peptide, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), are both known to suppress operant responding for food by acting on key mesolimbic nuclei, including the ventral tegmental area (VTA). In order to investigate the interaction effects of ghrelin, GLP-1, and 5-HT within the VTA, we measured operant responding for sucrose pellets after the administration of ghrelin, the GLP-1 receptor agonist exendin-4 (Ex-4), and the 5-HT 2c receptor agonist Ro60-0175 in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Following training on a progressive ratio 3 (PR3) schedule, animals were first injected with ghrelin into the VTA at doses of 3 to 300 pmol. In subsequent testing, separate rats were administered intraperitoneal (IP) Ex-4 (0.1–1.0 µg/kg) or VTA Ex-4 (0.01–0.1 µg) paired with 300 pmol ghrelin. In a final group of rats, the 5-HT 2c agonist Ro60-0175 was injected IP (0.25–1.0 mg/kg) or into the VTA (1.5–3.0 µg), and under both conditions paired with 300 pmol ghrelin delivered into the VTA. Our results indicated that ghrelin administration increased operant responding for food reward and that this effect was attenuated by IP and VTA Ex-4 pretreatment as well as pre-administration of IP or VTA Ro60-0175. These data provide compelling evidence that mesolimbic GLP-1 and serotonergic circuitry interact with the ghrelinergic system to suppress ghrelin’s effects on the mediation of food reinforcement.

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          Most cited references 60

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          Distribution of pre-pro-glucagon and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor messenger RNAs in the rat central nervous system.

          Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is derived from the peptide precursor pre-pro-glucagon (PPG) by enzymatic cleavage and acts via its receptor, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R). By using riboprobes complementary to PPG and GLP-1R, we described the distribution of PPG and GLP-1R messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in the central nervous system of the rat. PPG mRNA-expressing perikarya were restricted to the nucleus of the solitary tact or to the dorsal and ventral medulla and olfactory bulb. GLP-1R mRNA was detected in numerous brain regions, including the mitral cell layer of the olfactory bulb; temporal cortex; caudal hippocampus; lateral septum; amygdala; nucleus accumbens; ventral pallium; nucleus basalis Meynert; bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; preoptic area; paraventricular, supraoptic, arcuate, and dorsomedial nuclei of the hypothalamus; lateral habenula; zona incerta; substantia innominata; posterior thalamic nuclei; ventral tegmental area; dorsal tegmental, posterodorsal tegmental, and interpeduncular nuclei; substantia nigra, central gray; raphe nuclei; parabrachial nuclei; locus ceruleus, nucleus of the solitary tract; area postrema; dorsal nucleus of the vagus; lateral reticular nucleus; and spinal cord. These studies, in addition to describing the sites of GLP-1 and GLP-1R synthesis, suggest that the efferent connections from the nucleus of the solitary tract are more widespread than previously reported. Although the current role of GLP-1 in regulating neuronal physiology is not known, these studies provide detailed information about the sites of GLP-1 synthesis and potential sites of action, an important first step in evaluating the function of GLP-1 in the brain. The widespread distribution of GLP-1R mRNA-containing cells strongly suggests that GLP-1 not only functions as a satiety factor but also acts as a neurotransmitter or neuromodulator in anatomically and functionally distinct areas of the central nervous system.
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            GLP-1 neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract project directly to the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens to control for food intake.

            Central glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor activation reduces food intake; however, brain nuclei and mechanism(s) mediating this effect remain poorly understood. Although central nervous system GLP-1 is produced almost exclusively in the nucleus of the solitary tract in the hindbrain, GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1R) are expressed throughout the brain, including nuclei in the mesolimbic reward system (MRS), e.g. the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Here, we examine the MRS as a potential site of action for GLP-1-mediated control of food intake and body weight. Double immunohistochemistry for Fluorogold (monosynaptic retrograde tracer) and GLP-1 neuron immunoreactivity indicated that GLP-1-producing nucleus tractus solitarius neurons project directly to the VTA, the NAc core, and the NAc shell. Pharmacological data showed that GLP-1R activation in the VTA, NAc core, and NAc shell decreased food intake, especially of highly-palatable foods, and body weight. Moreover, blockade of endogenous GLP-1R signaling in the VTA and NAc core resulted in a significant increase in food intake, establishing a physiological relevance for GLP-1 signaling in the MRS. Current data highlight these nuclei within the MRS as novel sites for GLP-1R-mediated control of food intake and body weight.
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              Ghrelin directly targets the ventral tegmental area to increase food motivation.

              Ghrelin, a circulating orexigenic stomach-derived hormone, has recently been implicated in extra-homeostatic feeding, increasing food reward and food-motivated behavior. The precise target site(s) for ghrelin's effects on food reward have yet to be elucidated. The neurocircuitry underpinning food-motivated behavior involves, in particular, the dopamine cells of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) that project to the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Ghrelin stimulation in both of these mesolimbic reward areas increases chow intake. Here we sought to determine if ghrelin acts directly within these mesolimbic reward areas to increase food reward/motivation in studies that combine feeding behavior, pharmacology, and neuroanatomy. We found that motivated behavior for a sucrose reward, assessed in an operant conditioning paradigm in rats, was increased when ghrelin was microinjected directly into the VTA but not into the NAcc. By contrast, ghrelin administration to both areas increased the free feeding of chow. Importantly, in a state of overnight food restriction, where endogenous levels of ghrelin are increased, ghrelin receptor (GHS-R1A) blockade in the VTA was sufficient to decrease the motivation to work for a sugar reward. Blockade of the GHS-R1A in VTA or NAcc was not sufficient to reduce fasting-induced chow hyperphagia. Taken together our data identify the VTA but not the NAcc as a direct, necessary, and sufficient target site for ghrelin's action on food motivation. Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                19 February 2019
                February 2019
                : 20
                : 4
                Department of Psychology, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland, OR 97202, USA; howelle@ 123456reed.edu (E.H.); hmbaum@ 123456umich.edu (H.M.B.); lia.zallar@ 123456gmail.com (L.J.Z.); jselva@ 123456alumni.reed.edu (J.A.S.); engelol@ 123456reed.edu (L.E.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: pcurrie@ 123456reed.edu ; Tel.: +1-503-777-7267
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


                Molecular biology

                appetitive reward, operant responding, mesolimbic, ex-4, ro60-0175


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