Dopamine release in the lateral hypothalamus is stimulated by α-MSH in both the anticipatory and consummatory phases of feeding

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015 Jun:56:79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.02.020. Epub 2015 Mar 5.


α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), is a hypothalamic neuropeptide signaling satiation, but it is not known if α-MSH may stimulate dopamine release in a feeding control brain region of the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), during the anticipatory and consummatory phases of feeding behavior. To address these questions, dynamics of dopamine release were measured in 15 min microdialysis samples simultaneously from the LHA and the nucleus accumbens (NAc) during consecutive exposure and provision of food and 1% sucrose in Wistar rats after overnight food deprivation. α-MSH was infused via the microdialysis probe either into the LHA or NAc starting before food exposure. Food, sucrose and water intakes were automatically monitored and analyzed concomitantly with microdialysis samples. We found that LHA-α-MSH-infused rats stopped eating earlier and consumed less food and sucrose as compared to control and NAc-α-MSH-infused rats. Exposure to food produced a peak of LHA dopamine in both LHA-α-MSH and NAc-α-MSH-infused rats but not in the controls. During food provision, LHA dopamine levels were strongly elevated in LHA-α-MSH infused rats, while delivery of α-MSH into the NAc induced a less intense increase of dopamine in both NAc and LHA. In all rats, LHA dopamine levels correlated inversely with sucrose intake. In conclusion, our study showed that α-MSH stimulates dopamine release in the LHA during both the anticipatory and consummatory phases of feeding, decreases food intake and inhibits sucrose intake. These data suggest that LHA dopamine release can be involved in α-MSH anorexigenic effects.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Dopamine; Eating disorders; Melanocortin; Neuropeptides; α-MSH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticipation, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Consummatory Behavior / drug effects*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Drinking / drug effects
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • Food Preferences / drug effects
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / drug effects*
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Microinjections
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • alpha-MSH / administration & dosage
  • alpha-MSH / pharmacology*


  • alpha-MSH
  • Dopamine