Neuroscience. 2017 Oct 24;362:228-238. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.08.047.

Presence of pups suppresses hunger-induced feeding in virgin adult mice of both sexes.

Han Y1, Li XY1, Wang SR1, Wei YC1, Xu XH2.

1 Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China; University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
2 Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China. Electronic address: xiaohong.xu@ion.ac.cn.

 

Abstract

Despite recent progress on neural pathways underlying individual behaviors, how an animal balances and prioritizes behavioral outputs remains poorly understood. While studying the relationship between hunger-induced feeding and pup-induced maternal behaviors in virgin female mice, we made the unexpected discovery that presence of pups strongly delayed and decreased food consumption. Strikingly, presence of pups also suppressed feeding induced by optogenetic activation of Agrp neurons. Such a suppressive effect inversely correlated with the extents of maternal behaviors, but did not rely on the display of these behaviors, and was also present in virgin males. Furthermore, chemogenetic activation of Vglut2+ neurons in the medial preoptic area (mPOA), a region critical for maternal behaviors and motivation, was sufficient to suppress hunger-induced feeding. However, muscimol inhibition of the mPOA, while disrupting maternal behaviors, did not prevent pup suppression of feeding, indicating that neural pathways in other brain regions may also mediate such an effect. Together, these results provide novel insights into neural coordination of pup care and feeding in mice and organizations of animal behaviors in general.

KEYWORDS:

Vglut2; anorexia; feeding; hunger; maternal behaviors; preoptic

PMID: 28882425

 

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