Removal of high-fat diet after chronic exposure drives binge behavior and dopaminergic dysregulation in female mice

Jesse L. Carlin, Sarah E. McKee, Tiffany Hill-Smith, Nicola M. Grissom, Robert George, Irwin Lucki, Teresa M. Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A significant contributor to the obesity epidemic is the overconsumption of highly palatable, energy dense foods. Chronic intake of palatable foods is associated with neuroadaptations within the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system adaptations which may lead to behavioral changes, such as overconsumption or bingeing. We examined behavioral and molecular outcomes in mice that were given chronic exposure to a high-fat diet (HFD; 12 weeks), with the onset of the diet either in adolescence or adulthood. To examine whether observed effects could be reversed upon removal of the HFD, animals were also studied 4 weeks after a return to chow feeding. Most notably, female mice, particularly those exposed to HFD starting in adolescence, demonstrated the emergence of binge-like behavior when given restricted access to a palatable food. Further, changes in dopamine-related gene expression and dopamine content in the prefrontal cortex were observed. Some of these HFD-driven phenotypes reversed upon removal of the diet, whereas others were initiated by removal of the diet. These findings have implications for obesity management and interventions, as both pharmacological and behavioral therapies are often combined with dietary interventions (e.g., reduction in calorie dense foods).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-179
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jun 21 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work was supported by NIH grants TL1TR000138 (JLC), T32-GM008076 (JLC), and MH087978 (TMR). The authors have no financial interests or conflicts of interest to disclose. Experiments were designed and analyzed by JLC, IL and TMR; experiments were performed by JLC, SEM, THS, NMG, and RG, and the manuscript was written by JLC and TMR, and edited by SEM, NMG and IL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IBRO.


  • Adolescence
  • Binge
  • Dopamine
  • High-fat diet
  • Reward
  • Sex difference


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