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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Mar;284(3):E475-80.

Postnatal oxytocin alleviates adverse effects in adult rat offspring caused by maternal malnutrition.

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  • 1Division of Nutrition, Department of Biomedicine and Surgery, Linköping University, Sweden.


Repeated oxytocin administration to adult rats causes a long-term decrease of plasma levels of corticosterone and blood pressure and stimulates growth and fat retention. Maternal undernutrition increases blood pressure and plasma corticosterone in adult offspring. We hypothesized that oxytocin treatment early in life would alleviate adverse effects of intrauterine food restriction. Male pups from ad libitum-fed and food-restricted (fed 60% of ad libitum intake) dams were injected with oxytocin or saline in days 1-14 after birth. At 4 mo, blood pressure, plasma levels of corticosterone, and adiposity were assessed. Oxytocin treatment decreased blood pressure independently of nutrition, whereas the increased plasma levels of corticosterone were lowered to normal levels in food-restricted offspring. Blood pressure and adiposity were not affected by in utero food restriction, whereas birth and adult weight were. In conclusion, postnatal events may alleviate adverse effects caused by in utero food restriction. In contrast to more severe food restriction, a moderate general food restriction during gestation had no effect on blood pressure in the offspring.

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