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J Neurosci. 2008 Oct 8;28(41):10272-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1531-08.2008.

The influence of DeltaFosB in the nucleus accumbens on natural reward-related behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9070, USA.


The transcription factor deltaFosB (DeltaFosB), induced in nucleus accumbens (NAc) by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse, has been shown to mediate sensitized responses to these drugs. However, less is known about a role for DeltaFosB in regulating responses to natural rewards. Here, we demonstrate that two powerful natural reward behaviors, sucrose drinking and sexual behavior, increase levels of DeltaFosB in the NAc. We then use viral-mediated gene transfer to study how such DeltaFosB induction influences behavioral responses to these natural rewards. We demonstrate that overexpression of DeltaFosB in the NAc increases sucrose intake and promotes aspects of sexual behavior. In addition, we show that animals with previous sexual experience, which exhibit increased DeltaFosB levels, also show an increase in sucrose consumption. This work suggests that DeltaFosB is not only induced in the NAc by drugs of abuse, but also by natural rewarding stimuli. Additionally, our findings show that chronic exposure to stimuli that induce DeltaFosB in the NAc can increase consumption of other natural rewards.

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