High fat diet augments amphetamine sensitization in mice: Role of feeding pattern, obesity, and dopamine terminal changes

Neuropharmacology. 2016 Oct;109:170-182. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.06.006. Epub 2016 Jun 4.


High fat (HF) diet-induced obesity has been shown to augment behavioral responses to psychostimulants that target the dopamine system. The purpose of this study was to characterize dopamine terminal changes induced by a HF diet that correspond with enhanced locomotor sensitization to amphetamine. C57BL/6J mice had limited (2hr 3 d/week) or extended (24 h 7 d/week) access to a HF diet or standard chow for six weeks. Mice were then repeatedly exposed to amphetamine (AMPH), and their locomotor responses to an amphetamine challenge were measured. Fast scan cyclic voltammetry was used to identify changes in dopamine terminal function after AMPH exposure. Exposure to a HF diet reduced dopamine uptake and increased locomotor responses to acute, high-dose AMPH administration compared to chow fed mice. Microdialysis showed elevated extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) coincided with enhanced locomotion after acute AMPH in HF-fed mice. All mice exhibited locomotor sensitization to amphetamine, but both extended and limited access to a HF diet augmented this response. Neither HF-fed group showed the robust amphetamine sensitization-induced increases in dopamine release, reuptake, and amphetamine potency observed in chow fed animals. However, the potency of amphetamine as an uptake inhibitor was significantly elevated after sensitization in mice with extended (but not limited) access to HF. Conversely, after amphetamine sensitization, mice with limited (but not extended) access to HF displayed reduced autoreceptor sensitivity to the D2/D3 agonist quinpirole. Additionally, we observed reduced membrane dopamine transporter (DAT) levels after HF, and a shift in DAT localization to the cytosol was detected with limited access to HF. This study showed that different patterns of HF exposure produced distinct dopamine terminal adaptations to repeated AMPH, which differed from chow fed mice, and enhanced sensitization to AMPH. Locomotor sensitization in chow fed mice coincided with elevated DAT function and increased AMPH potency; however, the enhanced behavioral response to AMPH after HF exposure was unique in that it coincided with reduced DAT function and diet pattern-specific adaptations.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Dopamine; High fat; Microdialysis; Obesity; Voltammetry.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Diet, High-Fat / trends
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Amphetamine
  • Dopamine