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Hindbrain Administration of Oxytocin Reduces Food Intake, Weight Gain and Activates Catecholamine Neurons in the Hindbrain Nucleus of the Solitary Tract in Rats.


Existing studies show that CNS oxytocin (OT) signaling is important in the control of energy balance, but it is unclear which neurons may contribute to these effects. Our goals were to examine (1) the dose-response effects of acute OT administration into the third (3V; forebrain) and fourth (4V; hindbrain) ventricles to assess sensitivity to OT in forebrain and hindbrain sites, (2) the extent to which chronic 4V administration of OT reduces weight gain associated with the progression of diet-induced obesity, and (3) whether nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) catecholamine neurons are downstream targets of 4V OT. Initially, we examined the dose-response effects of 3V and 4V OT (0.04, 0.2, 1, or 5 μg). 3V and 4V OT (5 μg) suppressed 0.5-h food intake by 71.7 ± 6.0% and 60 ± 12.9%, respectively. 4V OT (0.04, 0.2, 1 μg) reduced food intake by 30.9 ± 12.9, 42.1 ± 9.4, and 56.4 ± 9.0%, respectively, whereas 3V administration of OT (1 μg) was only effective at reducing 0.5-h food intake by 38.3 ± 10.9%. We subsequently found that chronic 4V OT infusion, as with chronic 3V infusion, reduced body weight gain (specific to fat mass) and tended to reduce plasma leptin in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed rats, in part, through a reduction in energy intake. Lastly, we determined that 4V OT increased the number of hindbrain caudal NTS Fos (+) neurons (156 ± 25) relative to vehicle (12 ± 3). The 4V OT also induced Fos in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH; marker of catecholamine neurons) (+) neurons (25 ± 7%) relative to vehicle (0.8 ± 0.3%). Collectively, these findings support the hypothesis that OT within the hindbrain is effective at reducing food intake, weight gain, and adiposity and that NTS catecholamine neurons in addition to non-catecholaminergic neurons are downstream targets of CNS OT.

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