Nutritional status affects cognitive function in many types of organisms. In the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis, 1 day of food deprivation enhances taste aversion learning ability by decreasing the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamin; 5-HT) content in the central nervous system (CNS). On the other hand, after 5 days of food deprivation, learning ability and the CNS 5-HT concentration return to basal levels. How food deprivation leads to alterations of 5-HT levels in the CNS, however, is unknown. Here, we measured the concentration of the 5-HT precursor tryptophan in the hemolymph and CNS, and demonstrated that the CNS tryptophan concentration was higher in 5-day food-deprived snails than in non-food-deprived or 1-day food-deprived snails, whereas the hemolymph tryptophan concentration was not affected by the duration of food deprivation. This finding suggests the existence of a mediator of the CNS tryptophan concentration independent of food deprivation. To identify the mediator, we investigated autophagic flux in the CNS under different food deprivation conditions. We found that autophagic flux was significantly upregulated by inhibition of the tropomyosin receptor kinase (Trk)-Akt-mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (MTORC1) pathway in the CNS of 5-day food-deprived snails. Moreover, when autophagy was inhibited, the CNS 5-HT content was significantly downregulated in 5-day food-deprived snails. Our results suggest that the hemolymph tryptophan concentration and autophagic flux in the CNS cooperatively regulate learning ability affected by different durations of food deprivation. This mechanism may underlie the selection of behaviors appropriate for animal survival depending on the degree of nutrition.
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