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Phasic Stimulation of Midbrain Dopamine Neuron Activity Reduces Salt Consumption.

eNeuro | May 17, 2018

Salt intake is an essential dietary requirement, but excessive consumption is implicated in hypertension and associated conditions. Little is known about the neural circuit mechanisms that control motivation to consume salt, although the midbrain dopamine system, which plays a key role in other reward-related behaviors, has been implicated. We, therefore, examined the effects on salt consumption of either optogenetic excitation or chemogenetic inhibition of ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons in male mice. Strikingly, optogenetic excitation of dopamine neurons decreased salt intake in a rapid and reversible manner, despite a strong salt appetite. Importantly, optogenetic excitation was not aversive, did not induce hyperactivity, and did not alter salt concentration preferences in a need-free state. In addition, we found that chemogenetic inhibition of dopamine neurons had no effect on salt intake. Lastly, optogenetic excitation of dopamine neurons reduced consumption of sucrose following an overnight fast, suggesting a more general role of VTA dopamine neuron excitation in organizing motivated behaviors.

Pubmed ID: 29766048 RIS Download

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