Effects of Feeding and Drinking on Acetylcholine Release in the Nucleus Accumbens, Striatum, and Hippocampus of Freely Behaving Rats


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. B. G. Hoebel at Department of Psychology, Green Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010, U.S.A.


Abstract: Extracellular levels of acetylcholine (ACh) were measured in the nucleus accumbens (NAC), striatum (STR), and hippocampus (HIPP) using microdialysis in 30-min intervals before, during, and after free-feeding in 20-h food-deprived rats. The effects on ACh in the NAC and STR were also observed in response to water intake in 20-h water-deprived animals. Neostigmine was used in the perfusate to improve ACh recovery. Basal ACh was sensitive to tetrodotoxin and low calcium, and therefore largely neuronal in origin. Feeding caused a 38% increase in extracellular ACh in the NAC and no change in the STR or HIPP. Dopamine was also increased in the NAC (48%) and to a lesser extent in the STR (21%) following feeding. Drinking caused 18–20% increases in ACh release in both the NAC and STR. In a separate experiment, ACh release in the NAC was monitored in 10-min intervals during free-feeding; ACh increased in the interval immediately following maximal food intake. These results suggest a site-specific increase in ACh release following feeding that cannot be solely attributed to the activation associated with this behavior.