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Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Jun;37(6):885-8. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.153. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

Reduced anticipatory dopamine responses to food in rats exposed to high fat during early development.

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Department of Psychiatry and Integrated Program in Neuroscience, Neuroscience Division, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


We have previously demonstrated that exposure to high fat (HF) during early development alters the presynaptic regulation of mesolimbic dopamine (DA), and increases incentive motivation for HF food rewards. The goal of the present experiments was to examine the long-term consequences of early exposure to HF on anticipatory and consumatory nucleus accumbens (NAc) DA responses to HF food rewards. Mothers were maintained on a HF (30% fat) or control diet (CD; 5% fat) from gestation day 13 to postnatal day 22 when offspring from both diet groups were weaned and maintained on the CD until adulthood. In vivo NAc DA responses to food anticipation and consumption were measured in a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm using voltammetry in freely moving rats. HF-exposed offspring displayed reduced NAc DA responses to a tone previously paired with the delivery of HF food rewards. In an unconditioned protocol, consumatory NAc DA responses could be isolated, and were similar in HF and control offspring. These data demonstrate that exposure to HF through maternal diet during early development might program behavioral and functional responses associated with mesolimbic DA neurotransmission, thus leading to an increased HF feeding and obesity.

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