18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC), a selective antagonist of α3β4 nicotinic receptors, has been previously shown, in rats, to reduce the self-administration of several drugs of abuse, reduce operant responding for sucrose, and prevent the development of sucrose-induced obesity. It has become increasingly apparent that there is a significant overlap between the systems regulating drug reward and food intake, therefore, we investigated whether 18-MC might modulate the effects of ghrelin, one of several orexigenic peptides recently implicated in both feeding and drug reward.
In female Sprague-Dawley rats, we determined whether acute 18-MC treatment would reduce both ghrelin-induced increases in sucrose intake and ghrelin-elicited increases in accumbal dopamine levels.
Pretreatment with 18-MC (20 mg/kg, i.p.), given prior to the administration of ghrelin (1 μg, lateral ventricle), blocked ghrelin-induced increases in sucrose (5%) intake in a two-bottle open access paradigm. Using in vivo microdialysis, 18-MC (both 20 and 40 mg/kg) prevented ghrelin (2 μg, intraventral tegmental area)-induced increases in extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. 18-MC had no effect on deposition of fat or on serum levels of glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol in ghrelin-treated rats.
The present results suggest that one potential mechanism by which 18-MC exerts its effects on palatable food consumption is via modulation of ghrelin’s effects.