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    Oxytocin (OT) is a neuropeptide whose central receptor-mediated actions include reducing food intake. One mechanism of its behavioral action is the amplification of the feeding inhibitory effects of gastrointestinal (GI) satiation signals processed by hindbrain neurons. OT treatment also reduces carbohydrate intake in humans and rodents, and correspondingly, deficits in central OT receptor (OT-R) signaling increase sucrose self-administration. This suggests that additional processes contribute to central OT effects on feeding. This study investigated the hypothesis that central OT reduces food intake by decreasing food seeking and food motivation. As central OT-Rs are expressed widely, a related focus was to assess the role of one or more OT-R-expressing nuclei in food motivation and food-seeking behavior. OT was delivered to the lateral ventricle (LV), nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), or ventral tegmental area (VTA), and a progressive ratio (PR) schedule of operant reinforcement and an operant reinstatement paradigm were used to measure motivated feeding behavior and food-seeking behavior, respectively. OT delivered to the LV, NTS, or VTA reduced 1) motivation to work for food and 2) reinstatement of food-seeking behavior. Results provide a novel and additional interpretation for central OT-driven food intake inhibition to include the reduction of food motivation and food seeking.


    Hallie S Wald, Ananya Chandra, Anita Kalluri, Zhi Yi Ong, Matthew R Hayes, Harvey J Grill. NTS and VTA oxytocin reduces food motivation and food seeking. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. 2020 Dec 01;319(6):R673-R683

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    PMID: 33026822

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