Differential regulation of the consummatory, motivational and anticipatory aspects of feeding behavior by dopaminergic and opioidergic drugs

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Jul;31(7):1371-81. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300908. Epub 2005 Oct 5.


Various aspects of feeding behavior (eg consumption, motivation and anticipation) are regulated by homeostatic and hedonic systems, and are modulated by dopaminergic and opioid brain systems. Here, we have studied the modulation of these aspects of feeding behavior by opioid and dopaminergic neurotransmission while taking into account food palatability and homeostatic state. Foods that varied in palatability were presented to either food sated or food restricted rats following injections of different doses of naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist, or flupenthixol, a dopaminergic receptor antagonist, in behavioral paradigms that measured different aspects of feeding. Naloxone decreased food intake in a dose-dependent manner in sated rats given access to palatable food, without modifying food intake in food restricted rats. Flupenthixol did not have any effect on food intake. With regard to motivation, which was tested in a straight alley, naloxone increased the latency to reach the food only in sated rats presented with palatable food. Flupenthixol did not modify the latency of any group. Conditioned locomotor activity to repeated food presentation, a measure of anticipation, is expressed only in food restricted rats. Naloxone did not modify anticipatory activity, whereas flupenthixol decreased it only in food restricted rats presented with palatable food. These results reinforce the idea that the opioid system regulates feeding through the modulation of the perceived palatability of food. The dopaminergic system seems to be more important for the regulation of anticipatory activity related to motivationally relevant stimuli.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • Flupenthixol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Naloxone / pharmacology*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Flupenthixol