Long-lasting deficits in hedonic and nucleus accumbens reactivity to sweet rewards by sugar overconsumption during adolescence

Fabien Naneix, Florence Darlot, Etienne Coutureau, Martine Cador*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescence is a critical period characterized by major neurobiological changes. Chronic stimulation of the reward system might constitute an important factor in vulnerability to pathological development. In spite of the dramatic increase in the consumption of sweet palatable foods during adolescence in our modern societies, the long-term consequences of such exposure on brain reward processing remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated in rats the long-lasting effects of sugar overconsumption during their adolescence on their adult reactivity to the hedonic properties of sweet rewards. Adolescent rats with continuous access to 5% sucrose solution (from postnatal day 30-46) showed escalating intake. At adulthood (post-natal day 70), using two-bottle free choice tests, sucrose-exposed rats showed lower intake than non-exposed rats suggesting decreased sensitivity to the rewarding properties of sucrose. In Experiment 1, we tested their hedonic-related orofacial reactions to intraoral infusion of tasty solutions. We showed that sucrose-exposed rats presented less hedonic reactions in response to sweet tastes leaving the reactivity to water or quinine unaltered. Hence, in Experiment 2, we observed that this hedonic deficit is associated with lower c-Fos expression levels in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region known to play a central role in hedonic processing. These findings demonstrate that a history of high sucrose intake during the critical period of adolescence induces long-lasting deficits in hedonic treatment that may contribute to reward-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-680
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
Early online date13 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information
Conseil Régional d'Aquitaine
LABEX BRAIN. Grant Number: ANR‐10‐LABX‐43
Fond Français Alimentation Santé. Grant Number: C11022

Acknowledgements:This work is supported by the CNRS, the Conseil Régional d'Aquitaine, the LABEX BRAIN ANR‐10‐LABX‐43 and the Fond Français Alimentation Santé (grant no. C11022). F.N. is supported by the Fond Français Alimentation Santé. We thank Mariangela Martini and Sophie Pilon for their assistance in the implementation of the taste reactivity paradigm, Gilles Courtand, Angélique Faugère and Yoan Salafranque for technical help and Dr Shauna L. Parkes for her helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. The microscopy was done in the Bordeaux Imaging Centre, a service unit of the CNRS‐INSERM and Bordeaux University, member of the France BioImaging national infrastructure, with help from Christelle Poujol and Sébastien Marais.


  • C-Fos
  • Liking
  • Limbic system
  • Palatability
  • Rat


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