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J Neurosci. 1995 Oct;15(10):6779-88.

Glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell control feeding behavior via the lateral hypothalamus.

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Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The nucleus accumbens in a brain region considered to be important in the regulation of appetitive behavior and reinforcement. The accumbens receives afferent input from corticolimbic and thalamic structures, which is primarily coded by excitatory amino acids (EAAs). The present studies investigated the role of EAA input to the nucleus accumbens in feeding behavior in rats, in two recently characterized subregions of the accumbens, the "core" and "shell". In the first series of experiments, it was shown that blockade of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and kainate glutamate receptors in the medial part of the accumbens, corresponding to the medial shell subregion, resulted in a pronounced feeding response. Bilateral microinfusion of 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (DNQX, 0.25-0.75 micrograms/0.5 microliters), 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline (CNQX, 0.75-1.5 micrograms), and 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoylbenzo-(F) quinoxaline (NBQX, 0.2-1.0 micrograms) markedly stimulated food intake immediately following infusion, in a dose-dependent manner. Infusion of DNQX into the central accumbens region, corresponding to the core, did not elicit feeding. Infusion of the NMDA antagonists 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (AP-5) and MK-801 (dizocilpine maleate) did not elicit feeding in either region. The feeding response to DNQX was blocked by local coinfusion of AMPA. Systemic pretreatment with naltrexone (5 mg/kg) had no effect on the DNQX-feeding response; however, prior systemic administration of both D-1 and D-2 antagonists reduced the response by half, suggesting a modulatory role for dopamine in the response. Moreover, the feeding response was completely inhibited by concurrent infusion of the GABAA agonist muscimol (10, 25 ng) into the lateral hypothalamus, a major projection area of the accumbens shell. These findings demonstrate a selective role for non-NMDA receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell in ingestive behavior, and suggest an important functional link between two major brain regions involved in reward, the nucleus accumbens and lateral hypothalamus.

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