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Short- and long-access palatable food self-administration results in different phenotypes of binge-type eating

Curtis, Genevieve R., Coudriet, Jensine M., Sanzalone, Lilia, Mack, Nancy R., Stein, Lauren M., Hayes, Matthew R., Barson, Jessica R.
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.212 pp. 112700
adolescence, animal models, binge eating disorder, binging, body mass index, body weight, energy intake, females, ingestion, men, milk chocolate, motivation, overeating, phenotype, rats, undereating, women, young adults, United States
Binge eating disorder (BED), the most common eating disorder in the United States, is characterized by binge-type eating and is associated with higher body mass index and greater motivation for food. This disorder tends to first appear in late adolescence or young adulthood and is more common in women than men. While some animal models of BED have recapitulated both the overeating and the excessive body weight / fat of BED, very few have examined the motivational aspects of this disorder or utilized young females as subjects. In the present study, female Long-Evans rats, starting in late adolescence, were trained in operant chambers to self-administer the highly palatable Milk Chocolate Ensure Plus®, in 30-minute (“short access”) or 6-hour (“long access”) sessions, 5 days per week, over 6.5 weeks. For comparison, other subjects were provided with Ensure ad libitum or maintained on chow and water only. Both short and long access to Ensure led rats to develop binge-type eating, measured as greater 30-minute caloric intake than rats with ad libitum or chow access and as increasing 30-minute intake across weeks. Compared to those with short access, rats with long access demonstrated moderately increased motivation for Ensure (measured by progressive ratio testing) and, compared to those with only chow access, they eventually showed significant hyperphagia on Ensure access days and hypophagia on non-access days. Rats with long access also showed greater body weight/fat than those maintained on chow. These findings suggest that, while both short and long operant access to Ensure causes young female rats to meet the definition of binge-type eating, they lead to different phenotypes of this behavior, with long access promoting the development of a greater number of features found in clinical BED. Ultimately, both models may be useful in future studies aimed at identifying the neurobiological basis of binge eating.