Differential activation of chemically identified neurons in the caudal nucleus of the solitary tract in non-entrained rats after intake of satiating vs. non-satiating meals

Physiol Behav. 2014 Sep;136:47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.01.015. Epub 2014 Feb 6.


Satiety signals arising from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and related digestive organs during food ingestion and digestion are conveyed by vagal sensory afferents to the hindbrain nucleus of the solitary tract (NST). Two intermingled but chemically distinct NST neuronal populations have been implicated in meal size control: noradrenergic (NA) neurons that comprise the A2 cell group, and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)-positive neurons. Previous results indicate that A2 neurons are activated in a meal size-dependent manner in rats that have been acclimated/entrained to a feeding schedule in order to increase meal size, whereas feeding under the same conditions does not activate GLP-1 neurons. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that both A2 and GLP-1 neuronal populations are recruited in non-entrained rats after voluntary first-time intake of an unrestricted, satiating volume of liquid Ensure. DBH-positive A2 neurons within the caudal visceral NST were progressively recruited to express cFos in rats that consumed progressively larger volumes of Ensure. Among these DBH-positive neurons, the prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP)-positive subset was more sensitive to feeding-induced activation than the PrRP-negative subset. Notably, significant activation of GLP-1-positive neurons occurred only in rats that consumed the largest volumes of Ensure, corresponding to nearly 5% of their BW. We interpret these results as evidence that progressive recruitment of NA neurons within the caudal NST, especially the most caudally-situated PrRP-positive subset, effectively "tracks" the magnitude of GI satiety signals and other meal-related sensory feedback. Conversely, GLP-1 neurons may only be recruited in response to the homeostatic challenge of consuming a very large, unanticipated meal.

Keywords: A2 cell group; Glucagon-like peptide-1; Prolactin-releasing peptide; Re-feeding; Satiety; cFos.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Food Deprivation
  • Food, Formulated
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Prolactin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Satiation / physiology*
  • Solitary Nucleus / cytology*
  • Solitary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Prolactin-Releasing Hormone
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Ensure formulated food
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase