This study explored whether different ratios of fructose (F) and glucose (G) in sugar can engender significant differences in self-administration and associated neurobiological and physiological responses in male Sprague-Dawley rats. In Experiment 1, animals self-administered pellets containing 55% F + 45% G or 30% F + 70% G, and Fos immunoreactivity was assessed in hypothalamic regions regulating food intake and reward. In Experiment 2, rats self-administered solutions of 55% F + 42% G (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)), 50% F + 50% G (sucrose) or saccharin, and mRNA of the dopamine 2 (D2R) and mu-opioid (MOR) receptor genes were assessed in striatal regions involved in addictive behaviors. Finally, in Experiment 3, rats self-administered HFCS and sucrose in their home cages, and hepatic fatty acids were quantified. It was found that higher fructose ratios engendered lower self-administration, lower Fos expression in the lateral hypothalamus/arcuate nucleus, reduced D2R and increased MOR mRNA in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens core, respectively, as well as elevated omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the liver. These data indicate that a higher ratio of fructose may enhance the reinforcing effects of sugar and possibly lead to neurobiological and physiological alterations associated with addictive and metabolic disorders.
Keywords: dopamine 2 receptor; fatty acid; fructose; glucose; hepatic; hypothalamus; mu opioid receptor; nucleus accumbens; rat; self-administration.