Systemic ghrelin and reward: Effect of cholinergic blockade

E. Disse, A. L. Bussier, N. Deblon, P. T. Pfluger, M. H. Tschöp, M. Laville, F. Rohner-Jeanrenaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Aims: Ghrelin is one of the most potent orexigens known to date. Recent data suggested that ghrelin is involved in reward-mediated processes such as the rewarding value of food. Whereas the neuronal pathways by which ghrelin regulates energy balance are well described, those involved in ghrelin-induced reward are still confusing. Therefore, we attempted to delineate the involvement of physiological and pharmacological rises in plasma ghrelin in the modulation of food reward seeking behaviours, using the classical conditioned place preference (CPP) procedure in C57BL6J mice, as well as in mice lacking the ghrelin receptor (GHSR1a -/-). We also determined whether these effects on reward-related behaviours could be partly mediated by cholinergic pathways by pre-treating mice with mecamylamine. Results: Upon moderate caloric restriction, systemic ghrelin levels increased from 108 ± 21 to 148 ± 39. pg/ml in C57BL6J mice and from 111 ± 24 to 179 ± 41. pg/ml in GHSR1a-null mice. Short exposure to rewarding food elicited a strong CPP and stimulation of locomotor activity in GHSR1a wild-type and C57BL6J mice. Conversely, the GHSR1a -/- mice did not exhibit such a food CPP, despite a negative energy balance. Pharmacological rise in systemic ghrelin further increased the time spent in the food-paired side with a higher CPP score (+. 71%) and this effect was blunted after cholinergic blockade by mecamylamine. Conclusions: The ghrelin receptor is obligatory to acquire a food-CPP. The level of plasma ghrelin during conditioning determines the strength of food-induced reward seeking behaviours. The cholinergic pathway partly mediates the further enhancement of food reward induced by pharmacological rises in plasma ghrelin, but not that induced by physiological increases in ghrelin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-484
Number of pages4
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • CPP
  • Food
  • Ghrelin
  • Mecamylamine
  • Reward


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