The lateral hypothalamic area (LHa) is an important brain site for the regulation of food intake. Central injection of opioids increases food intake, and the LHa contains mu and kappa opioid receptors, both of which are involved in feeding behavior. It is unclear whether opioids impact feeding when injected directly into the rostral portion of the LHa (rLHa) in rats. We performed a series of studies in which free-feeding rLHa-cannulated rats were injected with opioid agonists (DAMGO, morphine, dynorphin, U-50488H) followed by the measurement of food intake at 1, 2, and 4 h postinjection. To determine whether opioid receptor ligands administered into the rLHa affect neuronal activation in this brain site, we studied cFos immunoreactivity (cFos IR) in response to rLHa stimulation with naltrexone. We found that the only compound that stimulated feeding behavior was morphine. The other agonists had no effect on food consumption. Naltrexone injection into the rLHa increased neural activation in the LHa, indicating the presence of functional opioid receptors in this region. These data suggest that although neuronal activity is affected by opioid agents acting in the rLHa, administration of selective mu and kappa opioid ligands in this subdivision of the LHa does not have a reliable effect on feeding behavior.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse DA-03999, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease P30-DK-50456 grants.