Food and Behaviour Research

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Incubation of feeding behavior is regulated by neuromedin U receptor 2 in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus

McCue DL, Kasper JM, Hommel JD (2019) Behav Brain Res.  2019 Feb;359: 763-770. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.015. Epub 2018 Sep 15. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


A diet of energy-dense food, characterized mainly as a high-fat diet, leads to a persistent excessive consumption defined as overeating. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 2 in 3 adults in the United States are overweight or obese, straining our healthcare system with epidemic proportions. Diets that include abstaining from high-fat foods, ironically, result in an increase in motivation and craving for said high-fat foods, defined as an incubation effect because the behavior aids in developing overeating.

Previously, we have shown that modulation of 
neuromedin U receptor 2 (NMUR2) in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) results in increased food intake and motivation for energy-dense foods. Here, we continue our focus on NMUR2 in the PVN, but in relation to the incubation effect on craving for high-fat food. We employed a model for incubation of craving by having rats abstain from high-fat foods for 30 days before undergoing intake of fatty food on fixed ratio and progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement, and then assess their response to reactivity to cues. Using this model, we compared the feeding behaviors of rats that underwent an mRNA knockdown of the NMUR2 in the PVN to controls after both underwent a 30-day abstinence from high-fat foods.

Our results show knockdown of NMUR2 in the PVN blocks the 
incubation of feedingbehavior for food-related cues and high-fat foods.


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