Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), produced in the intestine and the brain, can stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas and alleviate type 2 diabetes. The cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) may enhance insulin secretion from ?-cells by stimulating peripheral GLP-1 production. GLP-1 and its analogs also reduce food intake and body weight, clinically beneficial actions that are likely exerted at the level of the CNS, but otherwise are poorly understood. The cytokines IL-6 and interleukin 1? (IL-1?) may exert an anti-obesity effect in the CNS during health. Here we found that central injection of a clinically used GLP-1 receptor agonist, exendin-4, potently increased the expression of IL-6 in the hypothalamus (11-fold) and the hindbrain (4-fold) and of IL-1? in the hypothalamus, without changing the expression of other inflammation-associated genes. Furthermore, hypothalamic and hindbrain interleukin-associated intracellular signals [phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (pSTAT3) and suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS1)] were also elevated by exendin-4. Pharmacologic disruption of CNS IL-1 receptor or IL-6 biological activity attenuated anorexia and body weight loss induced by central exendin-4 administration in a rat. Simultaneous blockade of IL-1 and IL-6 activity led to a more potent attenuation of exendin-4 effects on food intake. Mice with global IL-1 receptor gene knockout or central IL-6 receptor knockdown showed attenuated decrease in food intake and body weight in response to peripheral exendin-4 treatment. GLP-1 receptor activation in the mouse neuronal Neuro2A cell line also resulted in increased IL-6 expression. These data outline a previously unidentified role of the central IL-1 and IL-6 in mediating the anorexic and body weight loss effects of GLP-1 receptor activation.
Obesity has reached global epidemic proportions and creating an urgent need to understand mechanisms underlying excessive and uncontrolled food intake. Ghrelin, the only known circulating orexigenic hormone, potently increases food reward behavior. The neurochemical circuitry that links ghrelin to the mesolimbic reward system and to the increased food reward behavior remains unclear. Here we examine whether VTA-NAc dopaminergic signaling is required for the effects of ghrelin on food reward and intake. In addition, we examine the possibility of endogenous ghrelin acting on the VTA-NAc dopamine neurons. A D1-like or a D2 receptor antagonist was injected into the NAc in combination with ghrelin microinjection into the VTA to investigate whether this blockade attenuates ghrelin-induced food reward behavior. VTA injections of ghrelin produced a significant increase in food motivation/reward behavior, as measured by sucrose-induced progressive ratio operant conditioning, and chow intake. Pretreatment with either a D1-like or D2 receptor antagonist into the NAc, completely blocked the reward effect of ghrelin, leaving chow intake intact. We also found that this circuit is potentially relevant for the effects of endogenously released ghrelin as both antagonists reduced fasting (a state of high circulating levels of ghrelin) elevated sucrose-motivated behavior but not chow hyperphagia. Taken together our data identify the VTA to NAc dopaminergic projections, along with D1-like and D2 receptors in the NAc, as essential elements of the ghrelin responsive circuits controlling food reward behavior. Interestingly results also suggest that food reward behavior and simple intake of chow are controlled by divergent circuitry, where NAc dopamine plays an important role in food reward but not in food intake.
Glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a gut- and neuro-peptide with an important role in the regulation of food intake and glucose metabolism. Interestingly, GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1R) are expressed in key mesolimbic reward areas (including the ventral tegmental area, VTA), innervated by hindbrain GLP-1 neurons. Recently GLP-1 has emerged as a potential regulator of food reward behavior, an effect driven by the mesolimbic GLP-1Rs. Its role in other reward behaviors remains largely unexplored. Since a considerable overlap has been suggested for circuitry controlling reward behavior derived from food and alcohol we hypothesized that GLP-1 and GLP-1Rs could regulate alcohol intake and alcohol reward. We sought to determine whether GLP-1 or its clinically safe stable analogue, Exendin-4, reduce alcohol intake and reward. To determine the potential role of the endogenous GLP-1 in alcohol intake we evaluated whether GLP-1R antagonist, Exendin 9-39, can increase alcohol intake. Furthermore, we set out to evaluate whether VTA GLP-1R activation is sufficient to reduce alcohol intake. Male Wistar rats injected peripherally with GLP-1 or Exendin-4 reduced their alcohol intake in an intermittent access two bottle free choice drinking model. Importantly, a contribution of endogenously released GLP-1 is highlighted by our observation that blockade of GLP-1 receptors alone resulted in an increased alcohol intake. Furthermore, GLP-1 injection reduced alcohol reward in the alcohol conditioned place preference test in mice. To evaluate the neuroanatomical substrate linking GLP-1 with alcohol intake/reward, we selectively microinjected GLP-1 or Exendin 4 into the VTA. This direct stimulation of the VTA GLP-1 receptors potently reduced alcohol intake. Our findings implicate GLP-1R signaling as a novel modulator of alcohol intake and reward. We show for the first time that VTA GLP-1R stimulation leads to reduced alcohol intake. Considering that GLP-1 analogues are already approved for clinical use, this places the GLP system as an exciting new potential therapeutic target for alcohol use disorders.
Ghrelin, a stomach-derived hormone, is an orexigenic peptide that was recently shown to potently increase food reward behavior. The neurochemical circuitry that links ghrelin to the mesolimbic system and food reward behavior remains unclear. Here we examined the contribution of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and opioids to ghrelins effects on food motivation and intake. Both systems have well-established links to the mesolimbic ventral tegmental area (VTA) and reward/motivation control. NPY mediates the effect of ghrelin on food intake via activation of NPY-Y1 receptor (NPY-Y1R); their connection with respect to motivated behavior is unexplored. The role of opioids in any aspect of ghrelins action on food-oriented behaviors is unknown. Rats were trained in a progressive ratio sucrose-induced operant schedule to measure food reward/motivation behavior. Chow intake was measured immediately after the operant test. In separate experiments, we explored the suppressive effects of a selective NPY-Y1R antagonist or opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone, injected either intracerebroventricularly or intra-VTA, on ghrelin-induced food reward behavior. The ventricular ghrelin-induced increase in sucrose-motivated behavior and chow intake were completely blocked by intracerebroventricular pretreatment with either an NPY-Y1R antagonist or naltrexone. The intra-VTA ghrelin-induced sucrose-motivated behavior was blocked only by intra-VTA naltrexone. In contrast, the intra-VTA ghrelin-stimulated chow intake was attenuated only by intra-VTA NPY-Y1 blockade. Finally, ghrelin infusion was associated with an elevated VTA ?-opioid receptor expression. Thus, we identify central NPY and opioid signaling as the necessary mediators of food intake and reward effects of ghrelin and localize these interactions to the mesolimbic VTA.
Recent discoveries indicate an important role for ghrelin in drug and alcohol reward and an ability of ghrelin to regulate mesolimbic dopamine activity. The role of dopamine in novelty seeking, and the association between this trait and drug and alcohol abuse, led us to hypothesize that ghrelin may influence novelty seeking behavior. To test this possibility we applied several complementary rodent models of novelty seeking behavior, i.e. inescapable novelty-induced locomotor activity (NILA), novelty-induced place preference and novel object exploration, in rats subjected to acute ghrelin receptor (growth hormone secretagogue receptor; GHSR) stimulation or blockade. Furthermore we assessed the possible association between polymorphisms in the genes encoding ghrelin and GHSR and novelty seeking behavior in humans. The rodent studies indicate an important role for ghrelin in a wide range of novelty seeking behaviors. Ghrelin-injected rats exhibited a higher preference for a novel environment and increased novel object exploration. Conversely, those with GHSR blockade drastically reduced their preference for a novel environment and displayed decreased NILA. Importantly, the mesolimbic ventral tegmental area selective GHSR blockade was sufficient to reduce the NILA response indicating that the mesolimbic GHSRs might play an important role in the observed novelty responses. Moreover, in untreated animals, a striking positive correlation between NILA and sucrose reward behavior was detected. Two GHSR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs2948694 and rs495225, were significantly associated with the personality trait novelty seeking, as assessed using the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), in human subjects. This study provides the first evidence for a role of ghrelin in novelty seeking behavior in animals and humans, and also points to an association between food reward and novelty seeking in rodents.
The glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) system is a recently established target for type 2 diabetes treatment. In addition to regulating glucose homeostasis, GLP-1 also reduces food intake. Previous studies demonstrate that the anorexigenic effects of GLP-1 can be mediated through hypothalamic and brainstem circuits which regulate homeostatic feeding. Here, we demonstrate an entirely novel neurobiological mechanism for GLP-1-induced anorexia in rats, involving direct effects of a GLP-1 agonist, Exendin-4 (EX4) on food reward that are exerted at the level of the mesolimbic reward system. We assessed the impact of peripheral, central, and intramesolimbic EX4 on two models of food reward: conditioned place preference (CPP) and progressive ratio operant-conditioning. Food-reward behavior was reduced in the CPP test by EX4, as rats no longer preferred an environment previously paired to chocolate pellets. EX4 also decreased motivated behavior for sucrose in a progressive ratio operant-conditioning paradigm when administered peripherally. We show that this effect is mediated centrally, via GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1Rs). GLP-1Rs are expressed in several key nodes of the mesolimbic reward system; however, their function remains unexplored. Thus we sought to determine the neurobiological substrates underlying the food-reward effect. We found that the EX4-mediated inhibition of food reward could be driven from two key mesolimbic structures-ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens-without inducing concurrent malaise or locomotor impairment. The current findings, that activation of central GLP-1Rs strikingly suppresses food reward/motivation by interacting with the mesolimbic system, indicate an entirely novel mechanism by which the GLP-1R stimulation affects feeding-oriented behavior.
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