Ghrelin, an orexigenic hormone produced by the stomach, is secreted in anticipation of scheduled meals and in correlation with anticipatory locomotor activity. We hypothesized that ghrelin is directly implicated in stimulating locomotor activity in anticipation of scheduled meals. To test this hypothesis, we observed 24 h patterns of locomotor activity in mice with targeted mutations of the ghrelin receptor gene (GHSR KO) and wild-type littermates, all given access to food for 4 h daily for 14 days. While wild type (WT) and GHSR KO mice produced increases in anticipatory locomotor activity, anticipatory locomotor activity in GHSR KO mice was attenuated (P<0.05). These behavioral measures correlated with attenuated levels of Fos immunoreactivity in a number of hypothalamic nuclei from GHSR KO placed on the same restricted feeding schedule for 7 days and sacrificed at ZT4. Interestingly, seven daily i.p. ghrelin injections mimicked hypothalamic Fos expression patterns to those seen in mice under restricted feeding schedules. These data suggest that ghrelin acts in the hypothalamus to augment locomotor activity in anticipation of scheduled meals.

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Keywords anticipatory locomotor activity, Fos immunoreactivity, ghrelin, GHSR, hypothalamus, restricted feeding schedules
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Journal Neuroscience
Blum, I.D. (I. D.), Patterson, Z. (Z.), Khazall, R. (R.), Lamont, E.W. (E. W.), Sleeman, M.W. (M. W.), Horvath, T.L. (T. L.), & Abizaid, A. (2009). Reduced anticipatory locomotor responses to scheduled meals in ghrelin receptor deficient mice. Neuroscience, 164(2), 351–359. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.08.009