Molecular, immunohistochemical, and pharmacological evidence of oxytocin's role as inhibitor of carbohydrate but not fat intake

Pawel K. Olszewski, Anica Klockars, Agnieszka M. Olszewska, Robert Fredriksson, Helgi B. Schiöth, Allen S Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Oxytocin (OT) facilitates feeding termination stemming from high osmolality, stomach distention, and malaise. Recent knockout (KO) studies suggested a crucial function for OT in carbohydrate intake: OT-/- mice had increased preference for carbohydrates, including sucrose, but not fat (Intralipid). In striking contrast, sugar appetite was unaffected in the OT receptor KO mouse; data from wild-type animals have been insufficient. Therefore, we examined the involvement of OT in the regulation of sucrose vs. fat intake in C57BL/6 mice that served as a background KO strain. We exposed mice to a meal of sucrose or Intralipid and determined that the percentage of c-Fos-immunoreactive paraventricular hypothalamic OT neurons was elevated at termination of intake of either of the tastants, but this increase was 2-fold higher in sucrose-fed mice. A 48-h exposure to sucrose compared with Intralipid caused up-regulation of OT mRNA, whereas inherent individual preferences for sucrose vs. fat were not associated with differences in baseline OT expression as established with quantitative PCR. We found that L-368,899, an OT receptor antagonist, increased sugar intake when sucrose was presented alone or concurrently with Intralipid; it had no effect on Intralipid or total calorie consumption. L-368,899 affected Fos immunoreactivity in the paraventricular hypothalamus, arcuate nucleus, amygdala, and nucleus of the solitary tract, areas involved in aversion, satiety, and reward. This pattern serves as neuroanatomical basis of OT's complex role in food intake, including sucrose intake. The current findings expand our knowledge on OT and suggest that it acts as a carbohydrate-specific inhibitor of feeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4736-4744
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010


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