Date of this Version
Wakabayashi KT and Kiyatkin EA (2015) Behavior-associated and post-consumption glucose entry into the nucleus accumbens extracellular space during glucose free-drinking in trained rats. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 9:173. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00173
Glucose is the primary energetic substrate for the metabolic activity of brain cells and its proper delivery from the arterial blood is essential for neural activity and normal brain functions. Glucose is also a unique natural reinforcer, supporting glucose-drinking behavior without food or water deprivation. While it is known that glucose enters brain tissue via gradient-dependent facilitated diffusion, it remains unclear how glucose levels are changed during natural behavior and whether the direct central action of ingested glucose can be involved in regulating glucose-drinking behavior. Here, we used glucose biosensors with high-speed amperometry to examine the pattern of phasic and tonic changes in extracellular glucose in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) during unrestricted glucose-drinking in well-trained rats. We found that the drinking behavior is highly cyclic and is associated with relatively large and prolonged increases in extracellular glucose levels. These increases had two distinct components: a highly phasic but relatively small behavior-related rise and a larger tonic elevation that results from the arrival of consumed glucose into the brain’s extracellular space. The large post-ingestion increases in NAc glucose began minutes after the cessation of drinking and were consistently associated with periods of non-drinking, suggesting that the central action of ingested glucose could inhibit drinking behavior by inducing a pause in activity between repeated drinking bouts. Finally, the difference in NAc glucose responses found between active, behavior-mediated and passive glucose delivery via an intra-gastric catheter confirms that motivated behavior is also associated with metabolic glucose use by brain cells.