• 2503 Citations
  • 27 h-Index
1988 …2019
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Personal profile

Research interests

For the past 25 years, Dr. Andras Hajnal's research has focused on the neural mechanisms of appetitive behaviors, such as hedonic eating, substance use and addiction. Specific areas of his research have investigated how diet-induced obesity produces changes in the brain’s taste and reward systems to perpetuate over-eating and the role of gut-brain factors in regulating reward-guided behaviors.

Dr. Hajnal's early work was the first to demonstrate that sweet taste is sufficient to stimulate dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Dr. Hajnal’s work has also documented that reward elicited by sweet tastes is relayed through the parabrachial pontine nucleus to the forebrain and development of obesity impairs gustatory processing in the hindbrain. 

Recently, as part of a collaboration with bariatric surgeons and NIH scientists at NIAAA and NIDA, Dr. Hajnal has developed animal models of various bariatric surgeries for studying the beneficial and adverse effects of gastrointestinal manipulations on alcohol and opioid self-administration. The idea of using bariatric surgical animal models as a preclinical research tool to study neuro-hormonal mechanisms of addiction is novel and based on the premise that understanding what causes the switch in patients post-surgery moving away from food cravings and food addiction to develop alcohol and substance (primarily opioid) use disorder (a.k.a. ‘addiction-transfer’) could help with identifying mechanisms and targets in the brain that could be exploited in developing novel pharmacological targets to combat addiction.

A second area of research, currently funded by a Department of Defense Grant, is aimed at better understanding the mechanisms of gastrointestinal neuropeptide signaling in an animal model of spinal cord injury following weight loss surgery.

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  • 16 Similar Profiles
Gastric Bypass Medicine & Life Sciences
Inbred OLETF Rats Medicine & Life Sciences
Sucrose Medicine & Life Sciences
Dopamine Medicine & Life Sciences
Obesity Medicine & Life Sciences
Reward Medicine & Life Sciences
Cholecystokinin A Receptor Medicine & Life Sciences
Nucleus Accumbens Medicine & Life Sciences

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Projects 1988 2019

Gastric Bypass
Weight Loss
Gastric Bypass
Weight Loss
Inbred OLETF Rats
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Nucleus Accumbens
Binge-Eating Disorder
Solitary Nucleus
Brain Stem

Research Output 1999 2019

Neuro-hormonal mechanisms underlying changes in reward related behaviors following weight loss surgery: Potential pharmacological targets

Orellana, E. R., Covasa, M. & Hajnal, A., Jun 1 2019, In : Biochemical Pharmacology. 164, p. 106-114 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Weight Loss

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in rat reduces mu-opioid receptor levels in brain regions associated with stress and energy regulation

McGregor, M., Hamilton, J., Hajnal, A. & Thanos, P. K., Jun 1 2019, In : PloS one. 14, 6, e0218680.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
bariatric surgery
Gastric Bypass
mu Opioid Receptor

Taste Responses in the Nucleus of the Solitary Tract of Awake Obese Rats Are Blunted Compared With Those in Lean Rats

Weiss, M. S., Hajnal, A., Czaja, K. & Di Lorenzo, P. M., Jul 30 2019, In : Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 13, 35.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Solitary Nucleus
Artificial Saliva
Taste Perception
1 Citation (Scopus)

Antidepressant-like effects of insulin and IGF-1 are mediated by IGF-1 receptors in the brain

Mueller, P. L., Pritchett, C. E., Wiechman, T. N., Zharikov, A. & Hajnal, A., Oct 1 2018, In : Brain Research Bulletin. 143, p. 27-35 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Somatomedin Receptors
Antidepressive Agents
Insulin Receptor
7 Citations (Scopus)

Effect of vertical sleeve gastrectomy on alcohol consumption and preferences in dietary obese rats and mice: A plausible role for altered ghrelin signaling

Orellana, E. R., Jamis, C., Horvath, N. & Hajnal, A., Apr 1 2018, In : Brain Research Bulletin. 138, p. 26-36 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Obese Mice
Alcohol Drinking