Author(s): Di Sebastiano AR, WilsonPrez HE, Lehman MN, Coolen LM
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Abstract The hypothalamic neuropeptide orexin (hypocretin) mediates reward related to drugs of abuse and food intake. However, a role for orexin in sexual reward has yet to be investigated. Orexin neurons are activated by sexual behavior, but endogenous orexin does not appear to be essential for sexual performance and motivation in male rats. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to test the hypothesis that orexin is critically involved in processing of sexual reward in male rats. First, it was demonstrated following exposure to conditioned contextual cues associated with sexual behavior in a conditioned place preference paradigm that cFos expression is induced in orexin neurons, indicating activation of orexin neurons by cues predicting sexual reward. Next, orexin-cell specific lesions were utilized to determine the functional role of orexin in sexual reward processing. Hypothalami of adult male rats were infused with orexin-B-conjugated saporin, resulting in greater than 80\% loss of orexin neurons in the perifornical-dorsomedial and lateral hypothalamus. Orexin lesions did not affect expression of sexual behavior, but prevented formation of conditioned place preference for a sexual behavior paired chamber. In contrast, intact sham-treated males or males with partial lesions developed a conditioned place preference for mating. Orexin lesioned males maintained the ability to form a conditioned place aversion to lithium chloride-induced visceral illness, indicating that orexin lesions did not disrupt associative contextual memory. Overall, these findings suggest that orexin is not essential for sexual performance or motivation, but is critical for reward processing and conditioned cue-induced seeking of sexual behavior. Copyright Â© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Horm Behav
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy