Adult, female rats given irregular, limited access to chocolate develop binge-eating behaviour with normal bodyweight and compulsive/perseverative and impulsive behaviours similar to those in binge-eating disorder. We investigated whether (a) dysregulated central nervous system dopaminergic and opioidergic systems are part of the psychopathology of binge-eating and (b) these neurotransmitter systems may mediate the actions of drugs ameliorating binge-eating disorder psychopathology. Binge-eating produced a 39% reduction of striatal D1 receptors with 22% and 23% reductions in medial and lateral caudate putamen and a 22% increase of striatal μ-opioid receptors. There was no change in D1 receptor density in nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex or dorsolateral frontal cortex, striatal D2 receptors and dopamine reuptake transporter sites, or μ-opioid receptors in frontal cortex. There were no changes in ligand affinities. The concentrations of monoamines, metabolites and estimates of dopamine (dopamine/ dihydroxyphenylacetic acid ratio) and serotonin/5-hydroxyindolacetic acid ratio turnover rates were unchanged in striatum and frontal cortex. However, turnover of dopamine and serotonin in the hypothalamus was increased ~20% and ~15%, respectively. Striatal transmission via D1 receptors is decreased in binge-eating rats while μ-opioid receptor signalling may be increased. These changes are consistent with the attenuation of bingeeating by lisdexamfetamine, which increases catecholaminergic neurotransmission, and nalmefene, a μ-opioid antagonist.
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