Neural basis of ventromedial hypothalamic oxytocin-driven decrease in appetite

Oscar A. Klockars, Joseph R. Waas, Anica Klockars, Allen S. Levine, Pawel K. Olszewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives Oxytocin (OT) administration in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) reduces chow intake. The nature of VMH OT's anorexigenic action remains unclear. Here we provide insight into neural mechanisms underlying VMH OT-driven anorexia by (a) identifying feeding-related brain sites activated by VMH OT injection; (b) measuring VMH OT receptor (OTr) mRNA changes in response to hunger and palatability; and (c) examining how VMH OT affects episodic sweet solution intake in sated and hungry rats. Method We established effective doses of VMH OT in deprivation-induced and scheduled feeding and determined whether an OT antagonist blocks the effect. Then, OT (or antagonist) was injected in the VMH of sated rats given episodically sucrose and saccharin solutions. OT was also injected in hungry animals offered simultaneously chow and sugar water. Brain activation after VMH OT was determined by Fos immunoreactivity (IR). OTr expression was established with rtPCR after chow deprivation or saccharin exposure. Results VMH OT decreased intake of chow and the effect was reversed by the antagonist, though the antagonist alone was not orexigenic. OT did not affect intakes of energy-dilute saccharin and sucrose solutions in sated or hungry rats. Fos IR was elevated in the VMH and energy balance-related paraventricular and arcuate nuclei, but not reward areas. VMH OTr expression was higher in hungry rats than in sated controls; saccharin intake had no effect. Conclusion OT acting in the VMH decreases intake driven by energy not by palatability, and it stimulates activity of hypothalamic sites controlling energy balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 16 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No conflict of interest has been declared. The work was supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IBRO


  • VMH
  • energy
  • oxytocin
  • reward


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