Specific activation of histaminergic neurons during daily feeding anticipatory behavior in rats
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When food is available during a restricted and predictable time of the day, animals show increased locomotor and food searching behaviors before the anticipated daily meal. We had shown that histamine-containing neurons are the only aminergic neurons related to arousal that become active in anticipation of an upcoming meal. To further map, the brain regions involved in the expression of the feeding-anticipatory behavior, we quantified the expression of Fos in hypothalamic areas involved in arousal. We found that nearly 35% of the histamine neurons from the tuberomammillary nucleus were Fos-immunoreactive immediately before mealtime. One hour before this transient increase in Fos-immunoreactivity, we found a similarly brief increase of fos mRNA in the tuberomammillary nucleus. In contrast, the activation of two types of perifornical hypothalamic neurons followed meal onset by 1-2 h. One neuron type was orexin/hypocretin-immunoreactive, while the other type was neither orexin nor melanin concentrating hormone-immunoreactive. The present work indicates that the increased locomotor activity that anticipates mealtime coincides with the activation of the tuberomammillary nucleus, and that the behavioral activation during the consummatory phase of feeding coincides more closely with the delayed activation of the perifornical hypothalamic area.