Intermittent-access binge consumption of sweet high-fat liquid does not require opioid or dopamine receptors in the nucleus accumbens

Sylvie Lardeux, James J. Kim, Saleem M. Nicola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Binge eating disorders are characterized by episodes of intense consumption of high-calorie food. In recently developed animal models of binge eating, rats given intermittent access to such food escalate their consumption over time. Consumption of calorie-dense food is associated with neurochemical changes in the nucleus accumbens, including dopamine release and alterations in dopamine and opioid receptor expression. Therefore, we hypothesized that binge-like consumption on intermittent access schedules is dependent on opioid and/or dopamine neurotransmission in the accumbens. To test this hypothesis, we asked whether injection of dopamine and opioid receptor antagonists into the core and shell of the accumbens reduced consumption of a sweet high-fat liquid in rats with and without a history of intermittent binge access to the liquid. Although injection of a μ opioid agonist increased consumption, none of the antagonists (including μ opioid, δ opioid, κ opioid, D1 dopamine and D2 dopamine receptor antagonists, as well as the broad-spectrum opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone) reduced consumption, and this was the case whether or not the animals had a prior history of intermittent access. These results suggest that consumption of sweet, fatty food does not require opioid or dopamine receptor activation in the accumbens even under intermittent access conditions that resemble human binge episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-208
Number of pages15
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Binge eating disorder
  • Dopamine
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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