Increasing evidence suggest that consumption of high-fat diet (HFD) can impact the maturation of brain circuits, such as during adolescence, which could account for behavioral alterations associated with obesity.
In the present study, we used behavioral sensitization to amphetamine to investigate the effect of periadolescent HFD exposure (pHFD) in rats on the functionality of the dopamine (DA) system, a central actor in food reward processing.
pHFD does not affect responding to an acute injection, however, a single exposure to amphetamine is sufficient to induce locomotor sensitization in pHFD rats. This is paralleled by rapid neurobiological adaptations within the DA system. In pHFD-exposed animals, a single amphetamine exposure induces an increase in bursting activity of DA cells in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) as well as higher DA release and greater expression of (tyrosine hydroxylase, TH) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Post-synaptically, pHFD animals display an increase in NAc D2 receptors and c-Fos expression after amphetamine injection.
These findings highlight the vulnerability of DA system to the consumption of HFD during adolescence that may support deficits in reward-related processes observed in obesity.
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