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Motivation for sucrose in sated rats is predicted by low anxiety-like behavior
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Functional Pharmacology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Functional Pharmacology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences. (Neuropharmacology, Addiction and Behaviour)
Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
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2009 (English)In: Neuroscience Letters, ISSN 0304-3940, E-ISSN 1872-7972, Vol. 454, no 3, 193-197 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Anxiety has been implicated in obesity and in the overconsumption of highly palatable foods such as those high in fat, sugar, or both. Also, the novelty-seeking trait has been associated with failure in weight-loss programs. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of experimental anxiety and the self-administration of sucrose and high fat pellets in non-food deprived rats across different operant schedules. Male Wistar rats were subjected to the elevated plus-maze test (EPM) of anxiety-like behavior. The rats were tested for fixed ratio 5 (FR5) and progressive ratio (PR) operant responding for 50% sucrose, 95% sucrose, and high-fat pellets. PR active lever press response for 95% sucrose, but not the other pellet types, was correlated to % time spent on open arms (P=0.019) in the EPM. On the FR5 schedule, activity (closed arm entries) was correlated to the self-administration of 50% sucrose (P=0.027) and high-fat (P=0.002). This indicates an association of novelty-induced activity and self-administration of palatable food in sated rats, as well as a specific association of PR lever press response for 95% sucrose and low anxiety-like behavior. It has been argued that such active lever press response on PR may be interpreted as craving for the reinforcer; thus, our findings indicate an inverse relationship of experimental anxiety and craving for sucrose. This connection may have implications for human situations, since anxiety and novelty-seeking have been associated with obesity and failure in weight-loss programs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2009. Vol. 454, no 3, 193-197 p.
Keyword [en]
Craving; Sucrose, Dietary fat, Progressive ratio, Anxiety, Novelty-seeking
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-117599DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.03.045ISI: 000265275500005PubMedID: 19429082OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-117599DiVA: diva2:300944
Available from: 2010-03-01 Created: 2010-02-21 Last updated: 2014-11-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. From Food Preference to Craving: Behavioural Traits and Molecular Mechanisms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Food Preference to Craving: Behavioural Traits and Molecular Mechanisms
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Preference for palatable and energy-dense foods may be a risk factor for body weight gain and has both genetic and environmental components. Once obesity develops in an individual, weight loss is difficult to achieve. Indeed, obesity is often characterized by repeated attempts to reduce the overconsumption of energy-dense foods, followed by food craving and relapse to overconsumption. Relapse and loss of control over intake are observed also in drug addicts, and it has been shown that obesity and drug addiction not only share behavioural features but also neural circuitry, e.g. the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. In this thesis, we sought to investigate the mechanisms related to food preferences and craving using animal models previously used in addiction research.

The risk of gaining weight may implicate behavioural traits and emotional states. We showed in rats that a risk-taking behavioural profile was associated both with increased preference for a high-fat (HF) diet and with increased motivational response to a palatable high-sucrose (HS) diet. Hypothalamic urocortin 2 expression was associated with the preference for the HF diet. We also tested the hypothesis that consumption of HS and HF diets separately or provided simultaneously (HFHS) affect anxiety-like behaviour and locomotion.

Furthermore, we showed that withdrawal from HFHS food affects diet-induced obesity-prone (OP) and obesity-resistant (OR) animals differently. OP animals had increased motivation (craving) for HS food pellets as measured by the operant self-administration technique during withdrawal. Dopamine receptor expression in the striatum differed between OP and OR animals both at access to HFHS and during withdrawal. This strongly implicates dopaminergic signaling in the OP phenotype.

In humans, food preferences may be monitored using questionnaires. We analyzed food preference data from parents of preschool children, and identified an inverse association of parental preference for high-fat high-protein food and overweight in children.

In conclusion, we have employed animal models previously used in the addiction field to identify molecular mechanisms related both to food preference and vulnerability to obesity, and to food craving associated with withdrawal from palatable food. These findings add to our current understanding of obesity.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 93 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 526
Obesity, Reward, Food preferences, Dietary fats, Dietary carbohydrates, Anxiety, Dopamine, Craving, Operant self-administration
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-119779 (URN)978-91-554-7734-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-04-10, B42, BMC, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-03-19 Created: 2010-03-01 Last updated: 2010-03-19Bibliographically approved

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