Based largely on a number of short-term administration studies, growing evidence suggests that central oxytocin is important in the regulation of energy balance. The goal of the current work is to determine whether long-term third ventricular (3V) infusion of oxytocin into the central nervous system (CNS) is effective for obesity prevention and/or treatment in rat models. We found that chronic 3V oxytocin infusion between 21 and 26 days by osmotic minipumps both reduced weight gain associated with the progression of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity and elicited a sustained reduction of fat mass with no decrease of lean mass in rats with established diet-induced obesity. We further demonstrated that these chronic oxytocin effects result from 1) maintenance of energy expenditure at preintervention levels despite ongoing weight loss, 2) a reduction in respiratory quotient, consistent with increased fat oxidation, and 3) an enhanced satiety response to cholecystokinin-8 and associated decrease of meal size. These weight-reducing effects persisted for approximately 10 days after termination of 3V oxytocin administration and occurred independently of whether sucrose was added to the HFD. We conclude that long-term 3V administration of oxytocin to rats can both prevent and treat diet-induced obesity.
Keywords: energy expenditure; food intake; obesity; oxytocin.