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Neuroscience. 2013 Apr 3;235:87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.01.019. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Effects of diet-induced obesity on motivation and pain behavior in an operant assay.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Obesity has been associated with multiple chronic pain disorders, including migraine. We hypothesized that diet-induced obesity would be associated with a reduced threshold for thermal nociception in the trigeminal system. In this study, we sought to examine the effect of diet-induced obesity on facial pain behavior. Mice of two different strains were fed high-fat or regular diet (RD) and tested using a well-established operant facial pain assay. We found that the effects of diet on behavior in this assay were strain and reward dependent. Obesity-prone C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) display lower number of licks of a caloric, palatable reward (33% sweetened condensed milk or 30% sucrose) than control mice. This occurred at all temperatures, in both sexes, and was evident even before the onset of obesity. This diminished reward-seeking behavior was not observed in obesity-resistant SKH1-E (SK) mice. These findings suggest that diet and strain interact to modulate reward-seeking behavior. Furthermore, we observed a difference between diet groups in operant behavior with caloric, palatable rewards, but not with a non-caloric neutral reward (water). Importantly, we found no effect of diet-induced obesity on acute thermal nociception in the absence of inflammation or injury. This indicates that thermal sensation in the face is not affected by obesity-associated peripheral neuropathy as it occurs when studying pain behaviors in the rodent hindpaw. Future studies using this model may reveal whether obesity facilitates the development of chronic pain after injury or inflammation.

Copyright © 2013 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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