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

Matthew McGregor, John Hamilton, Andras Hajnal, Panayotis K. Thanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB) is the most common and effective weight loss procedure for severe obesity. However, a significant increase in addictive behaviors and new-onset substance use disorder (SUD) are sometimes observed post-surgery. The endogenous opioid system is known to play a major role in motivated behavior and reward, as well as the abuse of substances, including alcohol, tobacco, opioids and highly palatable foods. Here, we examined the effects of RYGB on mu-opioid receptor levels in the brain. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to one of four groups: standard diet with sham surgery (control), ad libitum high-energy high-fat (HF) diet with sham surgery, calorie restricted HF diet with sham surgery (Sham-FR), or HF diet with RYGB surgery. Control and HF groups were fed their respective diets for 8 weeks, with surgery performed on the eighth week. After 9 weeks on their respective diets post-surgery, animals were sacrificed for mu-opioid receptor autoradiography using the [3H] [D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4-Gly5-ol]- enkephalin (DAMGO) ligand. Rats with RYGB showed reduced DAMGO binding in the central amygdala compared to sham-operated HF diet controls, and in the hypothalamus compared to high-fat fed Sham-FR. Diet alone did not change [3H] DAMGO binding in any region. These findings show that RYGB surgery, independent of diet or caloric restriction, decreases mu opioid signaling in specific regions important for stress and energy regulation. Thus, RYGB surgery may lead to greater stress sensitivity via downregulated mu opioid signaling in the central amygdala, which may contribute to the observed increased risk in some subjects for addictive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0218680
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in rat reduces mu-opioid receptor levels in brain regions associated with stress and energy regulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this