Undernutrition upregulates fumarate hydratase in the rat nucleus accumbens
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Previous comparative studies of fumarate hydratase (FH) protein density revealed that the enzyme was overexpressed in the striatum of rodents that are less influenced by rewarding stimuli, from cocaine to food. Therefore, we recently proposed FH as a potential striatal biomarker of brain reward deficiency and addiction vulnerability. This work has been focused to investigate FH activity in the Nucleus Accumbens (NAc) of undernourished rats, taking into account that malnutrition has been related to increased responsiveness to food and drug reward. To this end, we have studied adult female Wistar rats severely food restricted from the 16th day of intrauterine life until adulthood. Animals were sacrificed to dissect the NAc and obtain mitochondrial and cytosolic fractions after homogenisation and centrifugation. FH activity was measured by conversion of malate to fumarate, and protein levels were compared by Western blot analysis when fractions showed differences in activity. Undernutrition did not change cytosolic FH activity but led to a marked increase of mitochondrial FH activity (72 %) and protein content (50 %) in the NAc. This change was in the opposite direction that one would predict if it was related to addiction vulnerability of some kind, but strongly suggests that mitochondrial FH needs to be at some optimal level for normal reward responsiveness.