Homeostatic and hedonic pathways distinctly interact to control food intake. Dysregulations of circuitries controlling hedonic feeding may disrupt homeostatic mechanisms and lead to eating disorders. The anorexigenic peptides nucleobindin-2 (NUCB2)/nesfatin-1 may be involved in the interaction of these pathways. The endogenous levels of this peptide are regulated by the feeding state, with reduced levels following fasting and normalized by refeeding. The fasting state is associated with biochemical and behavioral adaptations ultimately leading to enhanced sensitization of reward circuitries towards food reward. Although NUCB2/nesfatin-1 is expressed in reward-related brain areas, its role in regulating motivation and preference for nutrients has not yet been investigated. We here report that both dopamine and GABA neurons express NUCB2/nesfatin-1 in the VTA. Ex vivo electrophysiological recordings show that nesfatin-1 hyperpolarizes dopamine, but not GABA, neurons of the VTA by inducing an outward potassium current. In vivo, central administration of nesfatin-1 reduces motivation for food reward in a high-effort condition, sucrose intake and preference. We next adopted a 2-bottle choice procedure, whereby the reward value of sucrose was compared with that of a reference stimulus (sucralose + optogenetic stimulation of VTA dopamine neurons) and found that nesfatin-1 fully abolishes the fasting-induced increase in the reward value of sucrose. These findings indicate that nesfatin-1 reduces energy intake by negatively modulating dopaminergic neuron activity and, in turn, hedonic aspects of food intake. Since nesfatin-1´s actions are preserved in conditions of leptin resistance, the present findings render the NUCB2/nesfatin-1 system an appealing target for the development of novel therapeutical treatments towards obesity.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)
DFG Research Classification Scheme
- 205-17 Endocrinology, Diabetology, Metabolism