The dopamine and endocannabinoid neurotransmitter systems have been implicated in delay discounting, a measure of impulsive choice, and obesity. The current study was designed to determine the extent to which haloperidol and rimonabant affected delay discounting in rats fed standard-chow and high-fat diets. Sprague-Dawley rats were allowed to free-feed under a high-fat diet (4.73 kcal/g) or a standard-chow diet (3.0 kcal/g) for 3 months. Then, operant sessions began in which rats (n=9 standard chow; n=10 high-fat) chose between one sucrose pellet delivered immediately versus three sucrose pellets after a series of delays. In another condition, carrot-flavored pellets replaced sucrose pellets. After behavior stabilized, acute injections of rimonabant (0.3-10 mg/kg) and haloperidol (0.003-0.1 mg/kg) were administered intraperitoneally before some choice sessions under both pellet conditions. Haloperidol and rimonabant increased discounting in both groups of rats by decreasing percent choice for the larger reinforcer and area-under-the-curve values. Rats in the high-fat diet condition showed increased sensitivity to haloperidol compared with chow-fed controls; haloperidol increased discounting in both dietary groups in the sucrose condition, but only in the high-fat-fed rats in the carrot-pellet condition. These findings indicate that blocking dopamine-2 and cannabinoid-1 receptors results in increased delay discounting, and that a high-fat diet may alter sensitivity to dopaminergic compounds using the delay-discounting task.
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