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A Rewarding View On Orexin Cells

  August, 24 2005 8:23
your information resource in human molecular genetics
Previous studies have implicated a part of the brain known as the lateral hypothalamus in reward and motivation. But the cells and neurotransmitters involved in these behaviours remained unknown. Now, a team led by Glenda Harris show that activation of neurons that contain the neurotransmitter orexin in this brain region is proportionally linked to food- and drug-seeking behaviours in rats.

The findings appear in an Advanced Online Publication from Nature. Orexin neurons have already been shown to have a role in sleep and arousal.

Harris and her colleagues have also demonstrated that blocking the orexin neurotransmitter itself abolishes the rats' addictive tendencies. Finally, they show that a relapse of drug-seeking behaviour can be induced by direct injection of this neurotransmitter into a major reward centre of the brain to which cells of the lateral hypothalamus project, known as the ventral tegmental area. The authors believe that the results suggest a potential new target for addiction treatments.

Author contact:

Glenda Harris (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
E-mail: glenda@dolphin.upenn.edu

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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