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Ghrelin signalling within the rat nucleus accumbens and skilled reach foraging

Journal article
Authors Jesper Vestlund
Filip Bergquist
Daniel Eckernäs
Valentina Licheri
Louise Adermark
Elisabeth Jerlhag
Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology
Volume 106
Pages 183-194
ISSN 0306-4530
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 183-194
Language en
Keywords Electrophysiology, GABA, Gut-brain axis, Nucleus accumbens shell, Skilled reach foraging, ghrelin, hormone receptor blocking agent, jmv 2959, unclassified drug, acute drug administration, animal experiment, Article, chronic drug administration, controlled study, dorsolateral striatum, dorsomedial striatum, electric potential, ex vivo study, experimental behavioral test, foraging behavior, ghrelin signalling, male, medial prefrontal cortex, Montoya staircase test, motor performance, neurophysiology, neurotransmission, nonhuman, nucleus accumbens, priority journal, rat, signal transduction, whole cell patch clamp
Subject categories Neurosciences


Motivation alters behaviour in a complex manner and nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell has been implied as a key structure regulating such behaviour. Recent studies show that acute ghrelin signalling enhances motivation when assessed in a simple motor task. The aim of the present study was to define the role of ghrelin signalling on motivation in a more complex motor behaviour. Rats were tested in the Montoya staircase, an animal model of skilled reach foraging assessed by the number of sucrose pellets consumed. Electrophysiological recordings were conducted to explore the neurophysiological correlates of ghrelin signalling. The initial electrophysiological results displayed that ex vivo administration of ghrelin increased NAc shell output in brain slices from drug- and training-naïve rats. In rats with an acquired skilled reach performance, acute as well as repeated treatment with a ghrelin receptor (GHSR-1 A) antagonist (JMV2959) decreased the number of sucrose pellets consumed. Moreover, infusion of JMV2959 into NAc shell reduced this consumption. Sub-chronic, during ten days, JMV2959 treatment during training on the Montoya staircase reduced the number of pellets consumed, whereas ghrelin improved this behaviour. In addition, field potential and whole cell recordings were conducted in NAc shell of rats that had been treated with ghrelin or GHSR-1 A antagonist during training on the Montoya staircase. Sub-chronic administration of ghrelin during motor-skill learning selectively increased the frequency of inhibitory transmission in the NAc shell, resulting in a net suppression of accumbal output. Collectively these data suggest that ghrelin signalling in NAc shell enhances skilled reached foraging tentatively by increasing the motivation. © 2019

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