Compulsive-like eating of high-fat high-sugar food is associated with ‘addiction-like’ glutamatergic dysfunction in obesity prone rats

Diana Sketriene, Damien Battista, Laddawan Lalert, Natcharee Kraiwattanapirom, Han Ngoc Thai, Tanawan Leeboonngam, Lori A. Knackstedt, Jess Nithianantharajah, Priya Sumithran, Andrew J. Lawrence, Robyn M. Brown

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic overeating is a core feature of diet-induced obesity. There is increasing evidence that in vulnerable individuals, such overeating could become compulsive, resembling an addictive disorder. The transition to compulsive substance use has been linked with changes at glutamatergic synapses in the nucleus accumbens. In this study, we investigated a potential link between such glutamatergic dysregulation and compulsive-like eating using a rat model of diet-induced obesity. A conditioned suppression task demonstrated that diet-induced obese rats display eating despite negative consequences, as their consumption was insensitive to an aversive cue. Moreover, nucleus accumbens expression of GluA1 and xCT proteins was upregulated in diet-induced obese animals. Lastly, both a computed ‘addiction score’ (based on performance across three criteria) and weight gain were positively correlated with changes in GluA1 and xCT expression in the nucleus accumbens. These data demonstrate that the propensity for diet-induced obesity is associated with compulsive-like eating of highly palatable food and is accompanied by ‘addiction-like’ glutamatergic dysregulation in the nucleus accumbens, thus providing neurobiological evidence of addiction-like pathology in this model of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13206
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • compulsive eating
  • conditioned suppression
  • glutamate
  • nucleus accumbens
  • Sprague–Dawley

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