Food intake and food choice: The role of the endogenous opioid peptides in the marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata

Perdita J. Hope, Ian Chapman, John E. Morley, Michael Horowitz, Gary A. Wittert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Endogenous opioid peptides activate food seeking behaviour and influence macronutrient choice in a number of animal species and previous studies have suggested that the palatability of food is strongly modulated by the opioid feeding system. The effect of opioid peptides on appetite and food choice in marsupials has not been evaluated. The aim of these studies was to determine the effect of μ, δ and κ opioid receptors on food intake and food choice in the marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata. When offered a choice of mealworms or laboratory diet after 24 h food deprivation, S. crassicaudata ate predominantly mealworms. After a 24 h fast, adult male S. crassicaudata were injected peripherally with opioid receptor antagonists or saline. Animals were re-fed with either their laboratory diet alone, or a choice of laboratory diet and mealworms. In animals re-fed with laboratory diet alone, naloxone at doses of 15 and 10 mg/kg produced a 31% (P < 0.05) and 38% (P < 0.05) respectively reduction in food intake in the first 30 min after laboratory diet was re-introduced, but lower doses had no effect. The selective δ antagonist naltrindole at 20 mg/kg resulted in a 65% (P < 0.01) reduction in food intake compared to controls between 30 and 60 min. The selective κ opioid antagonist nor-binaltorphimine had no effect on the intake of laboratory diet. In animals offered a choice of laboratory diet and mealworms, naloxone doses of 1, 5, 10, 15 and 20 mg/kg significantly decreased intake in the first 0.5 h after re-feeding, due to a preferential suppression of the intake of mealworms. Naltrindole and nor-binaltorphimine had no effect on food choice. These studies demonstrate that endogenous opioid peptides influence both food intake and choice in S. crassicaudata and that the role of the opioid feeding system is in part modulated by food palatability. In S. crassicaudata these effects appear to occur predominantly by a μ opioid receptor mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Naloxone
  • Naltrindole
  • Nor- binaltorphimine
  • Opioid
  • Paintability
  • Sminthopsis crassicaudata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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