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Peptides. 2005 Sep;26(9):1602-10. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

The interoceptive cue properties of ghrelin generalize to cues produced by food deprivation.

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Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


A number of recent studies implicate the gut-brain peptide ghrelin as a putative "hunger signal". Most of these studies, however, rely on either consummatory behavior (in humans or nonhuman animals) or self-report (in humans) to draw conclusions regarding the orexigenic properties of this peptide. The present study employs the deprivation intensity discrimination paradigm to assess the interoceptive sensory properties of ghrelin in rats. In this paradigm, one group of rats was placed in a training context and presented with sucrose pellets when 24 h food deprived, but not when 1 h food deprived (24+ group). A second group was trained using the opposite sucrose-deprivation level contingency (1+ group). Learning in this paradigm was demonstrated by animals approaching the food delivery location more frequently under their rewarded compared to their non-rewarded deprivation condition (prior to actual pellet delivery). After asymptotic performance of this discrimination was achieved, these animals (1 h food deprived) were administered ghrelin or saline, either i.p. (3 or 6 nmol) or i3vt (0.1 or 1 nmol), placed in the training context, and appetitive responses were measured. Testing was conducted in extinction, eliminating confounding effects of food consumption. Results of these tests showed that 6 nmol i.p. ghrelin and 0.1 and 1 nmol i3vt ghrelin all generalized to a state of 24 h food deprivation, indicating that exogenous ghrelin has sensory properties in common with the stimuli produced by 24 h food deprivation. These results support the notion that endogenous ghrelin contributes to an interoceptive hunger cue, and that this may be a mechanism by which ghrelin influences food intake and appetitive behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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