The role of mesolimbic opioids in food intake reward
Mental Health Coordinator, Wayzata Public Schools, Minnesota
Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, BS, Biology, 1999
Allen S. Levine, Ph.D.
My research focuses on the mesolimbic reward pathway, between the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens. I study, in rats, the effects of opioids and dopamine in these sites on intake of normal meals and of palatable meals high in fat and sucrose.
Using microinjection techniques, I temporarily manipulate opioid and dopamine signaling in these sites and then observe the effects on quantity of food consumed and nutrient chosen. I also use immunohistochemistry to determine the effects on cells in these brain sites after consumption of highly palatable meals, either acutely or in a chronic, binge-like pattern. The general hypothesis is that excessive intake of palatable foods activates the same reward mechanisms as do drugs of abuse.
- Bob Elde
- Stan Thayer
- Allen Levine
Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:
- Preparing Future Faculty
- Neuroscience of Drug Abuse
- Neurobiology of Disease
- Naleid AM, Grace MK, Chimukangara M, Billington CJ, Levine AS. Paraventricular opioids alter intake of high-fat but not high-sucrose diet depending on diet preference in a binge model of feeding. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007;293(1):R99-105.
- Naleid AM, Grace MK, Cummings DE, Levine AS. Ghrelin induces feeding in the mesolimbic reward pathway between the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens. Peptides. 2005;26(11):2274-9.
- MacDonald AF, Billington CJ, Levine AS. Alterations in food intake by opioid and dopamine signaling pathways between the ventral tegmental area and the shell of the nucleus accumbens. Brain Res. 2004;1018:78-85.
- MacDonald AF, Billington CJ, Levine AS. Effects of the opioid antagonist naltrexone on feeding induced by DAMGO in the ventral tegmental area and in the nucleus accumbens shell in the rat. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003;285: R999-R1004.
Conferences Attended and Presentations:
- Society for Neuroscience annual meeting - Fall 2002, 2004
- Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, Groningen, Netherlands, June 2003
- Winter Conference on Brain Research, Breckenridge, CO, January 2005
- William Engeland, Chair
- Cathy Kotz
- George Wilcox
- Will Thomas (Biostatistics department)
Awards and Honors:
- 2003-2005 National Research Service Award Fellow
- Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training Program, National Institutes of Health
- 2003 Frederick M. Stark Travel Award to Eleventh Annual Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior conference in Groningen, Netherlands
- Society for Neuroscience
- Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
- Eden Prairie, MN