Palatable food, clock-genes and the reward circuitry.

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD thesis


This thesis studied the interaction between diet-induced obesity and the 24h variations in behavior and physiology paced by the circadian system. Mice and rats were fed with a free choice high-fat high-sugar diet (fcHFHS). In mice, fcHFHS diet changed day-night eating patterns and PER2 clock-protein expression in the Lateral Habenula (LHb), a food-reward related area. In rats, no feeding patterns or clock-gene changes in LHb were found, however, Per2 gene expression was disrupted in the Nucleus Accumbens, which is indirectly connected to LHb. When blocking pharmacologically the glutamatergic functioning of the LHb, food intake was altered in both chow and fcHFHS-fed rats in a time-dependent manner. Finally, we tested the influence of Npas2 clock-gene on the disruption of rhythmic behavior produced by the fcHFHS-diet using Npas2 mutant and WT mice. Both genotypes, however, displayed similar altered eating patterns caused by the fcHFHS diet. Our findings indicate a relationship between nutrient type and an abnormal clock-gene expression in food reward-related areas, and an important role for the LHb in feeding behavior.
Original languageEnglish
  • Mendoza, Jorge, Promotor, External person
  • La Fleur, S.E., Promotor
  • Kalsbeek, A., Co-promotor
Award date05 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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