• 2655 Citations
  • 28 h-Index

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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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  • Research Output

    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

  • 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 2019, In : PloS one. 14, 6, e0218680.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 1 Scopus citations

    Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery triggers rapid DNA fragmentation in vagal afferent neurons in rats

    Minaya, D. M., Di Lorenzo, P. M., Hajnal, A. & Czaja, K., Jan 1 2019, In : Acta neurobiologiae experimentalis. 79, 4, p. 432-444 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 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
  • 1 Scopus citations

    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 2018, In : Brain Research Bulletin. 143, p. 27-35 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Scopus citations