c-Fos induction in mesotelencephalic dopamine pathway projection targets and dorsal striatum following oral intake of sugars and fats in rats

J. A. D. Dela Cruz, T. Coke, T. Karagiorgis, C. Sampson, D. Icaza-Cukali, K. Kest, R. Ranaldi, R. J. Bodnar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Overconsumption of nutrients high in fats and sugars can lead to obesity. Previous studies indicate that sugar or fat consumption activate individual brain sites using Fos-like immunoreactivity (FLI). Sugars and fats also elicit conditioned flavor preferences (CFP) that are differentially mediated by flavor-flavor (orosensory: f/f) and flavor-nutrient (post-ingestive: f/n) processes. Dopamine (DA) signaling in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), the amygdala (AMY) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc), has been implicated in acquisition and expression of fat- and sugar-CFP. The present study examined the effects of acute consumption of fat (corn oil: f/f and f/n), glucose (f/f and f/n), fructose, (f/f only), saccharin, xanthan gum or water upon simultaneous FLI activation of DA mesotelencephalic nuclei (ventral tegmental area (VTA)) and projections (infralimbic and prelimbic mPFC, basolateral and central-cortico-medial AMY, core and shell of NAc as well as the dorsal striatum). Consumption of corn oil solutions, isocaloric to glucose and fructose, significantly increased FLI in all sites except for the NAc shell. Glucose intake significantly increased FLI in both AMY areas, dorsal striatum and NAc core, but not in either mPFC area, VTA or Nac shell. Correspondingly, fructose intake significantly increased FLI in the both AMY areas, the infralimbic mPFC and dorsal striatum, but not the prelimbic mPFC, VTA or either NAc area. Saccharin and xanthan gum intake failed to activate FLI relative to water. When significant FLI activation occurred, highly positive relationships were observed among sites, supporting the idea of activation of a distributed brain network mediating sugar and fat intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-19
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Ventral tegmental area
  • Basolateral amygdala
  • Central-cortico-medial amygdala
  • Prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex
  • Infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex
  • Nucleus accumbens core
  • Nucleus accumbens shell
  • Dorsal striatum

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