The effects of a GLP-1 analog liraglutide on reward value and the learned inhibition of appetitive behavior in male and female rats

Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Sep;43(9):1875-1879. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0240-9. Epub 2018 Oct 26.


Liraglutide, a relatively long-lasting analog of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), has received recent attention as a treatment for obesity. It has been proposed that activation of GLP-1 receptors in mesolimbic reward pathways contributes to this outcome by reducing hedonic value of food. However, other findings suggest that activation of GLP-1 signaling pathways may suppress appetitive behavior by enhancing a hippocampal-dependent form of learned inhibition. The present experiment compares these two alternatives. Rats first solved a hippocampal-dependent discrimination problem in which a target stimulus signaled the delivery of sucrose, except when it was preceded by an inhibitory cue that signaled nonreward. The effects of 12 daily intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of liraglutide on responding to the target cue was then compared with and without the inhibitory stimulus. Relative to saline, liraglutide suppressed responding to the target cue only on trials when the inhibitory stimulus was also present (p < .05). This outcome was independent of sex and maintenance diet (Western diet or standard chow). The failure of liraglutide to suppress responding in the absence of the inhibitory cue argues against the notion that this GLP-1 agonist reduced the value of food reward and favors the idea that it enhanced a hippocampal-dependent form of behavioral inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, Western
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / analogs & derivatives*
  • Liraglutide / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reward*


  • Liraglutide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1