Protein Appetite Drives Macronutrient-Related Differences in Ventral Tegmental Area Neural Activity
AuthorChiacchierini, Giulia; Naneix, Fabien; Peters, Kate Z; Aspergis-Schoute, John; Snoeren, Eelke; McCutcheon, James Edgar
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Acquiring insufficient protein in one's diet has severe consequences for health and ultimately will lead to death. In addition, a low level of dietary protein has been proposed as a driver of obesity as it can leverage up intake of fat and carbohydrate. However, much remains unknown about the role of the brain in ensuring adequate intake of protein. Here, we show that in a state of protein restriction a key node in brain reward circuitry, the VTA, is activated more strongly during consumption of protein than carbohydrate. Moreover, although rats' behavior changed to reflect new protein status, patterns of neural activity were more persistent and only loosely linked to protein status.