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Eur J Neurosci. 2013 Nov;38(10):3476-86. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12354. Epub 2013 Sep 8.

Portal glucose influences the sensory, cortical and reward systems in rats.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U855, Lyon, France; Université Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France; Université de Lyon, Lyon, France; AgroParisTech, ENGREF, Paris, France.


The detection of glucose in the hepatoportal area is a simple but crucial peripheral cue initiating a nervous signal that ultimately leads to a wide array of metabolic and behavioural responses, such as decreased food intake, tighter control of glucose homeostasis, or appearance of food preference. This signal has been suggested to mediate the effects of high-protein diets, as opposed to high-fat/high-sucrose diets. Nevertheless, the central targets of the signal originating from the hepatoportal area remain largely undocumented. Using immunohistochemistry on the brain of male rats, we show here that portal glucose increases c-Fos expression in the brainstem, in the hypothalamus (in particular in neurons expressing pro-opiomelanocortin) and also in olfactory and other limbic and cortical areas, including those functionally implicated in reward (Experiment 1). In similar postabsorptive conditions, a high-protein diet induced similar effects in the hypothalamus and the granular cells of the main olfactory bulb, whereas the high-fat/high-sucrose diet actually reduced the basal expression of c-Fos in cortical layers. Both diets also decreased the number of neurons expressing c-Fos in the amygdala and gustatory areas (Experiment 2). Altogether, these findings suggest that the peripheral signal primed by portal glucose sensing may influence behavioural adaptation such as food preference via a network including the olfactory pathway, central amygdala, nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex, in addition to satiety and metabolic effects primarily implicating the hypothalamic response.


food intake; gut-brain interaction; high-protein diet; olfaction; pro-opiomelanocortin

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