Effect of intrahippocampal administration of anti-melanin-concentrating hormone on spatial food-seeking behavior in rats

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Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a hypothalamic peptide that plays a critical role in the regulation of food intake and energy metabolism. In this study, we investigated the potential role of dense hippocampal MCH innervation in the spatially oriented food-seeking component of feeding behavior. Rats were trained for eight sessions to seek food buried in an arena using the working memory version of the food-seeking behavior (FSB) task. The testing day involved a bilateral anti-MCH injection into the hippocampal formation followed by two trials. The anti-MCH injection did not interfere with the performance during the first trial on the testing day, which was similar to the training trials. However, during the second testing trial, when no food was presented in the arena, the control subjects exhibited a dramatic increase in the latency to initiate digging. Treatment with an anti-MCH antibody did not interfere with either the food-seeking behavior or the spatial orientation of the subjects, but the increase in the latency to start digging observed in the control subjects was prevented. These results are discussed in terms of a potential MCH-mediated hippocampal role in the integration of the sensory information necessary for decision-making in the pre-ingestive component of feeding behavior.

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