Growing evidence suggests that oxytocin plays an important role in the regulation of energy balance and that central oxytocin administration induces weight loss in diet-induced obese (DIO) animals. To gain a better understanding of how oxytocin mediates these effects, we examined feeding and neuronal responses to oxytocin in animals rendered obese following exposure to either a high-fat (HFD) or low-fat diet (LFD). Our findings demonstrate that peripheral administration of oxytocin dose-dependently reduces food intake and body weight to a similar extent in rats maintained on either diet. Moreover, the effect of oxytocin to induce weight loss remained intact in leptin receptor-deficient Koletsky (fak/fak) rats relative to their lean littermates. To determine whether systemically administered oxytocin activates hindbrain areas that regulate meal size, we measured neuronal c-Fos induction in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) and area postrema (AP). We observed a robust neuronal response to oxytocin in these hindbrain areas that was unexpectedly increased in rats rendered obese on a HFD relative to lean, LFD-fed controls. Finally, we report that repeated daily peripheral administration of oxytocin in DIO animals elicited a sustained reduction of food intake and body weight while preventing the reduction of energy expenditure characteristic of weight-reduced animals. These findings extend recent evidence suggesting that oxytocin circumvents leptin resistance and induces weight-loss in DIO animals through a mechanism involving activation of neurons in the NTS and AP, key hindbrain areas for processing satiety-related inputs.
- food intake