Obesity-inducing amygdala lesions: examination of anterograde degeneration and retrograde transport

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003 Apr;284(4):R965-82. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00249.2002. Epub 2002 Nov 14.


Small lesions centered in the posterodorsal region of the medial amygdala resulted in excessive weight gains in female rats. Unilateral lesions were nearly as effective as bilateral lesions in the first 48 h after surgery (+21 to +32 g). Assessment of lesion damage was done by both qualitative evaluation and by a quantitative grid-point counting method. The critical sites for weight gain were the intra-amygdaloid bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the posterodorsal medial amygdaloid nucleus. Incidental damage to the overlying globus pallidus was negatively related to weight gain. The cupric silver method for demonstrating axonal degeneration was applied to brains with obesity-inducing lesions. A dense pattern of degenerating terminals was found in the lateral septum, amygdala, ventral striatum, and ventromedial hypothalamus. Degeneration in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus was scarce or absent. Small retrograde tracer injections made in either the intra-amygdaloid bed nucleus of the stria terminalis or in the posterodorsal medial amygdaloid nucleus labeled cells in the amygdala, lateral septum, and hypothalamus, reciprocating the anterograde projections from the amygdala to these areas. The data suggest that subdivisions of the posterodorsal amygdala participate in the regulation of feeding in a manner that is similar to the better-known role of this part of the brain in mediating reproductive behavior. Although topographical differences may exist within the amygdaloid and hypothalamic subdivisions regulating these two sexually dimorphic behaviors, the relays engaged by feeding-related connections and those related to reproduction are remarkably parallel.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Amygdala / physiopathology
  • Amygdala / surgery
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport*
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Hypothalamus / pathology
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Septal Nuclei / pathology
  • Weight Gain