Food motivated behavior of melanocortin-4 receptor knockout mice under a progressive ratio schedule

C. Vaughan, M. Moore, C. Haskell-Luevano, N. E. Rowland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Melanocortin-4 receptor knockout (MC4RKO) mice are hyperphagic and develop obesity under free feeding conditions. We reported previously that MC4RKO mice did not maintain hyperphagia and as a result lost weight when required to press a lever to obtain food on a fixed ratio procurement schedule. To assess the generality of this result, we tested MC4RKO mice and their heterozygous and wild type littermates using progressive ratio (PR) schedules that are believed to be sensitive indicators of motivation. Mice lived in operant chambers and obtained all of their food (20 mg pellets) via lever press responding. Food was available according to a PR schedule so that within a meal, food became progressively more costly, and we expected this would provide a stringent test of mechanisms controlling meal size. The schedule reset after either 3 or 20 min of no responding, so defining meals, and the highest ratio completed before the reset was defined as the breakpoint. The average daily number of meals was lower and mean size of meals was higher at the 20 compared with the 3 min reset condition. Mean daily food intake did not differ between the two reset criteria but did differ as a function of genotype, with MC4RKO mice eating about 25% more than heterozygous or wild type mice. Hyperphagia in the MC4RKO mice was characterized primarily by larger meals (higher breakpoints) and they emitted about twice as many responses as wild type mice. Thus, using a PR schedule, MC4RKO mice exhibit hyperphagia, and show a high level of motivation to support large meal sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2829-2835
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The MC4RKO mice were generously provided by Millennium Pharmaceuticals and this work was supported in part by NIHDK57080 (CHL).


  • Closed economy
  • Food intake
  • Knockout
  • Melanocortin-4 receptors
  • Mice
  • Operant conditioning
  • Progressive ratio


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