Lactation provides an excellent model of non-obese hyperphagia. There is accumulating evidence that endogenous opioids play a role in the modulation of the hormonal changes that occur during lactation. Because endogenous opioids appear also to play a role in the regulation of feeding, we studied the effects of the opiate agonist, butorphanol tartrate, and an opiate antagonist, naloxone, on food intake in virgin female rats and in rats during early, mid and late lactation and during post-weaning. It has been reported that female rats are less sensitive to the suppressant effects of nalmefene, an opioid antagonist, than male rats. Therefore, we also examined the effect of naloxone, an opioid antagonist, on spontaneous nocturnal feeding and 24 hour food deprivation-induced food intake in virgin female rats. We found that female rats were relatively insensitive to the food suppressant effects of naloxone following 24 hour food deprivation, while male rats tested under similar conditions had a decreased intake in response to naloxone. Despite the marked hyperphagia that occurred during lactation, there were minimal alterations in the response to opiate agonists and antagonists during this time period. Our data suggest that endogenous opioids may not play a pivotal role in the hyperphagia of lactation.
- Food intake