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Neurosci Lett. 2012 Jul 26;522(1):12-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.05.066. Epub 2012 Jun 2.

Differential orexin/hypocretin expression in addiction-prone and -resistant rats selectively bred for high (HiS) and low (LoS) saccharin intake.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Rats that have been selectively bred for high (HiS) saccharin intake demonstrate elevated drug-seeking behavior in several phases of addiction compared to those bred for low (LoS) saccharin intake. HiS rats also consume greater amounts of highly palatable substances compared to LoS rats; however, little is known about the neurobiological substrates moderating the divergent behaviors found between the HiS and LoS lines. Orexins are neuropeptides that have been implicated in the conditioned cue aspects of drug abuse and overconsumption of palatable substances, and differential orexin activity in the HiS and LoS phenotypes may enhance our understanding of the close relationship between food and drug reward, and ultimately food and drug addiction. The lateral hypothalamus (LH) and perifornical area (PFA) are brain regions that have been implicated in regulating feeding behavior and addiction processes, and they contain orexinergic neurons that project broadly throughout the brain. Thus, we investigated orexin and c-Fos expression in the LH and PFA using immunohistochemistry in HiS and LoS rats following either control or cocaine (15 mg/kg) injections. Results indicated that HiS rats have higher orexin-positive cell counts compared to LoS rats in both the LH and PFA, regardless of cocaine (vs. saline) treatment. In contrast, neuronal activity indicated by c-Fos expression did not differ in either of these brain areas in HiS vs. LoS rats. These results suggest that the orexin system may be involved in aspects of genetically-mediated differences in vulnerability to compulsive, reward-driven behaviors.

Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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