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Previous research has demonstrated that dopamine and Neuropeptide Y (NPY) promote motivated behavior, and there is evidence to suggest that they interact within neural circuitry involved in motivation. NPY and dopamine both modulate appetitive motivation towards food through direct actions in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), although how they interact in this region to promote motivation is presently unclear. In this study, we sought to further elucidate the relationship between NAc NPY and dopamine and their effects on motivated behavior. Specifically, we examined whether NAc injections of NPY might reverse behavioral deficits caused by reduced dopamine signaling due to systemic dopamine receptor antagonism. Appetitive motivation was measured using a progressive ratio-2 paradigm. Male Sprague Dawley rats were treated with systemic injections of the dopamine antagonist, α-flupenthixol or a saline vehicle. Two hours following injections, they were administered infusions of NPY (at 0, 156, or 235 pmol) into either the NAc shell (n = 12) or the NAc core (n = 10) and were placed in operant chambers. In both groups, α-flupenthixol impaired performance on the PR-2 task. NPY receptor stimulation of the NAc shell significantly increased both breakpoint and active lever presses during the PR-2 task, and dose-dependently increased responding following systemic dopamine receptor blockade. NPY did not affect appetitive motivation when injected into the NAc core. These data demonstrate that NPY in the NAc shell can improve motivational impairments that result from dopamine antagonism, and that these effects are site specific. These results also suggest that upregulation of NPY in neurodegenerative diseases may possibly buffer early motivational deficits caused by dopamine depletion in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease patients, both of which show increased NPY expression after disease onset. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Allison E Carney, Caitlin Clarke, Wayne E Pratt. Administration of neuropeptide Y into the rat nucleus accumbens shell, but not core, attenuates the motivational impairment from systemic dopamine receptor antagonism by α-flupenthixol. Neuroscience letters. 2023 Feb 16;797:137069

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PMID: 36641044

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