Alterations in food intake elicited by GABA and opioid agonists and antagonists administered into the ventral tegmental area region of rats

Joyce A. Echo, Nicole Lamonte, Tsippa F. Ackerman, Richard J. Bodnar

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55 Scopus citations


Food intake is significantly increased following administration of μ-selective opioid agonists into the ventral tegmental area (VTA) region acting through multiple local opioid receptor subtypes. Since GABA receptor agonists in the VTA region are capable of eliciting feeding, the present study investigated whether feeding elicited by the μ-selective opioid agonist [D-Ala2, NMe4, Gly-ol5]-enkephalin (DAMGO) in the VTA region was altered by pretreatment into the same site with equimolar doses of either GABAA (bicuculline) or GABAB (saclofen) antagonists, and further, whether pretreatment with either general opioid or selective GABA receptor antagonists decreased feeding elicited by GABAA (muscimol) or GABAB (baclofen) agonists in the VTA region. DAMGO-induced feeding in the VTA region was dose-dependently decreased following pretreatment with either GABAA or GABAB antagonists in the absence of significant alterations in food intake by the antagonists per se. However, the presence of short-lived seizures following bicuculline in the VTA region suggests that this ingestive effect was caused by nonspecific actions. In contrast, GABAB receptors are involved in the full expression of μ-opioid agonist-induced feeding in this region since saclofen failed to elicit either seizure activity or a conditioned taste aversion. Pretreatment with naltrexone in the VTA region reduced intake elicited by baclofen, but not muscimol. Finally, baclofen-induced feeding was significantly reduced by saclofen, but not bicuculline, pretreatment in the VTA region. Therefore, possible coregulation between GABAB and opioid receptors in the VTA region, as suggested by immunocytochemical evidence, is supported by these behavioral effects upon ingestion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Baclofen
  • Bicuculline
  • GABA receptor
  • GABA receptor
  • Muscimol
  • Saclofen
  • Ventral tegmental area region
  • μ-opioid receptor


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