Oxytocin (OXT) has been shown to suppress appetite, induce weight loss, and improve glycemic control and lipid metabolism in several species, including humans, monkeys, and rodents. However, OXT's short half-life in circulation and lack of receptor selectivity limit its application and efficacy. In this study, we report an OXT peptide analog (OXTGly) that is potent and selective for the OXT receptor (OXTR). OXT, but not OXTGly, activated vasopressin receptors in vitro and acutely increased blood pressure in vivo when administered IP. OXT suppressed food intake in mice, whereas OXTGly had a moderate effect on food intake when administered IP or intracerebroventricularly. Both OXT (IP) and OXTGly (IP) improved glycemic control in glucose tolerance tests. Additionally, both OXT (IP) and OXTGly (IP) stimulated insulin, glucagon-like peptide 1, and glucagon secretion in mice. We generated lipid-conjugated OXT (acylated-OXT) and OXTGly (acylated-OXTGly) and demonstrated that these molecules have significantly extended half-lives in vivo. Compared with OXT, 2-week treatment of diet-induced obese mice with acylated-OXT [subcutaneous(ly) (SC)] resulted in enhanced body weight reduction, an improved lipid profile, and gene expression changes consistent with increased lipolysis and decreased gluconeogenesis. Treatment with acylated-OXTGly (SC) also resulted in a statistically significant weight loss, albeit to a lesser degree compared with acylated-OXT treatment. In conclusion, we demonstrate that selective activation of the OXTR pathway results in both acute and chronic metabolic benefits, whereas potential activation of vasopressin receptors by nonselective OXT analogs causes physiological stress that contributes to additional weight loss.
Keywords: acylation; oxytocin; vasopressin; weight loss.