Lateral hypothalamic GLP-1 receptors are critical for the control of food reinforcement, ingestive behavior and body weight

L. López-Ferreras, J. E. Richard, E. E. Noble, K. Eerola, R. H. Anderberg, K. Olandersson, L. Taing, S. E. Kanoski, M. R. Hayes, K. P. Skibicka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Increased motivation for highly rewarding food is a major contributing factor to obesity. Most of the literature focuses on the mesolimbic nuclei as the core of reward behavior regulation. However, the lateral hypothalamus (LH) is also a key reward-control locus in the brain. Here we hypothesize that manipulating glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) activity selectively in the LH can profoundly affect food reward behavior, ultimately leading to obesity. Progressive ratio operant responding for sucrose was examined in male and female rats, following GLP-1R activation and pharmacological or genetic GLP-1R blockade in the LH. Ingestive behavior and metabolic parameters, as well as molecular and efferent targets, of the LH GLP-1R activation were also evaluated. Food motivation was reduced by activation of LH GLP-1R. Conversely, acute pharmacological blockade of LH GLP-1R increased food motivation but only in male rats. GLP-1R activation also induced a robust reduction in food intake and body weight. Chronic knockdown of LH GLP-1R induced by intraparenchymal delivery of an adeno-associated virus-short hairpin RNA construct was sufficient to markedly and persistently elevate ingestive behavior and body weight and ultimately resulted in a doubling of fat mass in males and females. Interestingly, increased food reinforcement was again found only in males. Our data identify the LH GLP-1R as an indispensable element of normal food reinforcement, food intake and body weight regulation. These findings also show, for we believe the first time, that brain GLP-1R manipulation can result in a robust and chronic body weight gain. The broader implications of these findings are that the LH differs between females and males in its ability to control motivated and ingestive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1157-1168
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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