Stimulating the nucleus accumbens in obesity: A positron emission tomography study after deep brain stimulation in a rodent model

PLoS One. 2018 Sep 27;13(9):e0204740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0204740. eCollection 2018.


Purpose: The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) has been suggested as a possible target for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the treatment of obesity. Our hypothesis was that NAcc-DBS would modulate brain regions related to reward and food intake regulation, consequently reducing the food intake and, finally, the weight gain. Therefore, we examined changes in brain glucose metabolism, weight gain and food intake after NAcc-DBS in a rat model of obesity.

Procedures: Electrodes were bilaterally implanted in 2 groups of obese Zucker rats targeting the NAcc. One group received stimulation one hour daily during 15 days, while the other remained as control. Weight and daily consumption of food and water were everyday registered the days of stimulation, and twice per week during the following month. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies with 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) were performed 1 day after the end of DBS. PET data was assessed by statistical parametric mapping (SPM12) software and region of interest (ROI) analyses.

Results: NAcc-DBS lead to increased metabolism in the cingulate-retrosplenial-parietal association cortices, and decreased metabolism in the NAcc, thalamic and pretectal nuclei. Furthermore, ROIs analyses confirmed these results by showing a significant striatal and thalamic hypometabolism, and a cortical hypermetabolic region. However, NAcc-DBS did not induce a decrease in either weight gain or food intake.

Conclusions: NAcc-DBS led to changes in the metabolism of regions associated with cognitive and reward systems, whose impairment has been described in obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Deep Brain Stimulation*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens* / diagnostic imaging
  • Nucleus Accumbens* / physiopathology
  • Obesity* / diagnostic imaging
  • Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Obesity* / therapy
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker

Grants and funding

This research was supported by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness ISCIII grants (PI14/00860, CPII14/00005), Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (PI17/01766), cofunded by ERDF (FEDER) Funds from the European Commission "A way of making Europe", Fundación Mapfre, Fundación Alicia Koplowitz (FAK2016/01), 'Delegación de Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas' (PNSD 2017/085), Comunidad de Madrid (BRADE-CM S2013/ICE-2958) and Fundación Tatiana Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.