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Phasic dopamine activity is evoked by reliable predictors of food reward and plays a role in cue-triggered, goal-directed behavior. While this important signal is modulated by physiological state (e.g. hunger, satiety), the mechanisms by which physiological state is integrated by dopamine neurons is only beginning to be elucidated. Activation of central receptors for glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1R) via long-acting agonists (e.g., Exendin-4) suppresses food intake and food-directed motivated behavior, in part, through action in regions with dopamine cell bodies, terminals, and/or neural populations that directly target the mesolimbic dopamine system. However, the effects of GLP-1R activation on cue-evoked, phasic dopamine signaling remain unknown. Here, in vivo fiber photometry was used to capture real-time signaling dynamics selectively from dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of male and female transgenic (tyrosine hydroxylase-Cre; TH:Cre+) rats trained to associate an audio cue with the brief availability of a sucrose solution. Cue presentation evoked a brief spike in dopamine activity. Administration of Exendin-4 (Ex4; 0, 0.05, 0.1 μg) to the lateral ventricle both dose-dependently suppressed sucrose-directed behaviors and the magnitude of cue-evoked dopamine activity. Moreover, the amplitude of cue evoked dopamine activity was significantly correlated with subsequent sucrose-directed behaviors. While female rats exhibited overall reduced dopamine responses to the sucrose-paired cue relative to males, there was no significant interaction with Ex4. Together, these findings support a role for central GLP-1Rs in modulating a form of dopamine signaling that influences approach behavior and provide a potential mechanism whereby GLP-1 suppresses food-directed behaviors.

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