Psychology, Department of


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Kuebler et al. Biology of Sex Differences (2024) 15:33


Open access.


Recent preclinical research exploring how neuropeptide transmitter systems regulate motivated behavior reveal the increasing importance of sex as a critical biological variable. Neuropeptide systems and their central circuits both contribute to sex differences in a range of motivated behaviors and regulate sex-specific behaviors. In this short review, we explore the current research of how sex as a biological variable influences several distinct motivated behaviors that are modulated by the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) neuropeptide system. First, we review how MCH regulates feeding behavior within the context of energy homeostasis differently between male and female rodents. Then, we focus on MCH’s role in lactation as a sex-specific process within the context of energy homeostasis. Next, we discuss the sex-specific effects of MCH on maternal behavior. Finally, we summarize the role of MCH in drugmotivated behaviors. While these topics are traditionally investigated from different scientific perspectives, in this short review we discuss how these behaviors share commonalities within the larger context of motivated behaviors, and that sex differences discovered in one area of research may impact our understanding in another. Overall, our review highlights the need for further research into how sex differences in energy regulation associated with reproduction and parental care contribute to regulating motivated behaviors.

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