Exploring the Behavioral and Metabolic Phenotype Generated by Re-Introduction of the Ghrelin Receptor in the Ventral Tegmental Area

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Ghrelin receptor (Ghr-R) signaling in neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) can modulate dopaminergic function and the reward-related effects of both palatable foods and drugs of abuse. In this study, we re-introduced the Ghr-R in VTA neurons in Ghr-R knockout mice (Ghr-R(VTA) mice) to specifically study the importance of the constitutively active Ghr-R for VTA neuronal signaling. Our results showed that re-introduction of the Ghr-R in the VTA had no impact on body weight or food intake under basal conditions. However, during novel environment stress Ghr-R(VTA) mice showed increased food intake and energy expenditure compared to Ghr-R knockout mice, demonstrating the significance of Ghr-R signaling in the response to stress. Ghr-R(VTA) mice also showed increased cocaine-induced locomotor activity compared to Ghr-R knockout mice, highlighting the importance of ghrelin signaling for the reward-related effects of activation of VTA neurons. Overall, our data suggest that re-introduction of the Ghr-R in the mesolimbic reward system of Ghr-R knockout mice increases the level of activation induced by both cocaine and novelty stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number914
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2017

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