Endogenous opioid peptides are thought to play a role in mediating the palatability or rewarding aspects of sweet tastes. There is also evidence, however, which suggests that opioids may influence the preference for the taste of salt as well. In the present studies, we measured the effects of central administration of naloxone and the mu agonist [d-Ala2,MePhe4,Gly-ol5]enkephalin (DAGO) on the ingestion of salt solutions. In non-deprived rats given a choice of water and 0.6% saline, ICV injections of DAGO (1 and 3 nmol) significantly increased the intake of 0.6% saline; baseline water intake was minimal and was unaffected by DAGO. When rats were given a choice between water and 1.7% saline, DAGO stimulated both water and saline intake. Because 1.7% saline is a hypertonic solution, the increase in water intake may have been secondary to saline intake. In rats on a deprivation schedule in which water and 0.6% saline were available for only 2-3 h/day, there was a tendency for DAGO to increase 0.6% saline intake and decrease water intake, though these effects were not significant. In rats given water and 1.7% saline, DAGO increased saline intake and had no effect on water intake. Naloxone was also tested in water-deprived rats. Naloxone (20 and 50 μg) significantly decreased 0.6% saline intake; baseline water intake was low (3-5 ml) and was unaffected by naloxone. When rats were given a choice between water and 1.7% saline, naloxone (50 μg) significantly reduced water intake, while intake of 1.7% saline was slightly increased. These results suggest a role for central mu opioid receptors in mediating the preference for salt solutions.
- Saline intake
- Taste preference