, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 227–234 | Cite as

Increased ghrelin sensitivity and calorie consumption in subordinate monkeys is affected by short-term astressin B administration

  • Vasiliki MichopoulosEmail author
  • Tammy Loucks
  • Sarah L. Berga
  • Jean Rivier
  • Mark E. Wilson
Original Article


Animals chronically exposed to stressors with access to diets high in fat and sugar consume and prefer these diets, a result consistent with the association between stress and comfort food ingestion in humans. As social subordination in rhesus monkeys provides an ethologically relevant translational model of psychosocial stress, we tested the hypothesis that differences in food intake between dominant and subordinate female monkeys are due to corticotropin-releasing hormone-(CRH) induced alteration in sensitivity to ghrelin, a potent orexigenic signal. We assessed food intake of animals given a choice between a low (LCD) and high calorie diet (HCD) in response to 4-day treatment with the CRH receptor antagonist, astressin B, and to an acute treatment of ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulated intake of LCD in subordinates but did not further increase consumption of HCD, whereas ghrelin decreased LCD consumption without affecting HCD intake in dominant females. Astressin B decreased cortisol levels and increased preference for and intake of the HCD in subordinates and decreased calorie intake and HCD preference in dominant animals. These results suggest that increased caloric intake by subordinates may, in part, be explained by a greater sensitivity to postprandial increases in ghrelin and that CRH receptor antagonism leading to a decrease in cortisol has mixed effects on food choice depending on an individual’s stress background.


Ghrelin CRH receptor Food intake Diet preference Behavior Astressin B 



The study was conducted with the invaluable technical assistance of Jennifer Whitley, Marta Checchi, Shannon Bounar and Jeff Fisher. The study was supported by NIH HD46501 and RR00165, and NIMH Training Fellowship T32-MH073525 (VM). This work was also supported in part by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and the STC program of the National Science Foundation under agreement No. IBN-9876754. Assays were conducted at the YNPRC Biomarkers Core Facility. The YNPRC is fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vasiliki Michopoulos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tammy Loucks
    • 2
  • Sarah L. Berga
    • 2
  • Jean Rivier
    • 3
  • Mark E. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research CenterEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Gynecology & ObstetricsEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.The Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, The Salk InstituteLa JollaUSA

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