New paper: Protein appetite drives macronutrient-related differences in ventral tegmental area neural activity

Not getting enough of the macronutrient protein in our diet has severe consequences for health and ultimately can lead to death. It has even been suggested that a low level of dietary protein can cause obesity by leveraging up intake of fat and carbohydrate. However, little is known about how the brain ensures adequate protein intake. In this recent paper published open access in The Journal of Neuroscience , we showed that when rats were protein-restricted a key part of the brain's reward circuity, the VTA, was activated more strongly when rats were drinking protein than carbohydrate. Moreover, after the rats' diet was changed their behavior towards protein shifted quickly even though the VTA activity evoked by protein remained high.Thus, there might be persistent effects of protein deprivation on brain activation.

This work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [grant # BB / M007391 / 1 to JEM], the European Commission [grant #GA 631404 to JEM], The Leverhulme Trust [grant # RPG-2017-417 to JEM and JA-S.], And Tromsø Research Foundation [grant # 19-SGJMcC to JEM).

[Summary by Jaime]

Chiacchierini G, Naneix F, Peters KZ, Apergis-Schoute J, Snoeren EMS, McCutcheon JE (2021). Protein Appetite Drives Macronutrient-Related Differences in Ventral Tegmental Area Neural Activity. The Journal of Neuroscience41 (23): 5080-5092.  doi: 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.3082-20.2021.

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Last updated: 10.06.2021 17:49