Protracted motivational dopamine-related deficits following adolescence sugar overconsumption

Fabien Naneix, Florence Darlot, Véronique De Smedt-Peyrusse, Jean Rémi Pape, Etienne Coutureau (Corresponding Author), Martine Cador*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescence represents a critical period characterized by major neurobiological changes. Chronic stimulation of the reward system during adolescence might constitute an important factor of vulnerability to pathological development. Increasing evidences suggest that adolescent overconsumption of sweet palatable foods impact reward-based processes. However, the neurobiological bases of these deficits remain poorly understood. Previous studies have demonstrated motivational deficits for palatable foods after sweet diet exposure during adolescence that might involve the dopamine (DA) system, a central actor in incentive processes. In the present study, the impact of adolescent sugar overconsumption on the sensitivity of the DA system was tested using pharmacological (Experiment 1) and receptor expression approaches (Experiment 2). Adolescent rats received free and continuous access to 5% sucrose solution from post-natal day 30–46. At adulthood, the functionality of the DA system in motivational processes was tested using systemic injections of specific DA receptors D1R or D2R agonists and antagonists during a motivation-dependent progressive ratio task (Experiment 1). Sucrose-exposed rats showed a lower motivation for saccharin and a decreased sensitivity to the effects of both D1R and D2R stimulation and blockade. In Experiment 2, Sucrose-exposed animals presented a lower expression of both D1R and D2R in the nucleus accumbens, a central brain region for incentive processes, but not in dorsal striatum or prefrontal cortex. These findings highlight the impact of sucrose overconsumption during adolescence on DA system that may support deficits in reward-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
Early online date13 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Author's contribution: FN, EC and MC designed research; FN, FD, JRP and VDSP performed research, FN, EC and MC analyzed data; FN, EC and MC wrote the manuscript. All the authors edited and approved the manuscript.

Funding and disclosure: This work is supported by the CNRS, the Conseil Régional d'Aquitaine and the Fond Français Alimentation Santé (grant no. C11022). The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Acknowledgments: We thank Yoan Salafranque for the care provided to the animals during the experiments, the Biochemistry facility of the Bordeaux Neurocampus for the access to the blot imaging system and Dr. Pierre Trifilieff for his help with the generous providing of D2R antibody and helpful discussions on the paper.


  • Adolescence
  • Dopamine receptors
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Progressive ratio
  • Rat
  • Sucrose


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