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Biol Neonate. 2002;81(2):132-8.

Oxytocin treatment during early life influences reproductive performance in ad libitum fed and food-restricted female rats.

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


Oxytocin treatment may permanently alter endocrine axes resulting in anti-stress and anabolic effects. However, the nutritional status influences the effects of oxytocin. The specific aims of this study were to investigate the effects of postnatal oxytocin treatment on reproductive performance in adult life, by studying maternal weight gain, adiposity, plasma levels of IGF-I as well as fetal and placental weights in the following groups of animals: (1) Ad libitum fed dams coming from ad libitum fed mothers. (2) Ad libitum fed dams coming from food-restricted mothers. (3) Food-restricted dams coming from ad libitum fed mothers. (4) Food-restricted dams coming from food-restricted mothers. Oxytocin treatment postnatally had long-term effects and increased adiposity in pregnant dams and stimulated placental and fetal growth relative to saline-treated dams. However, if the dams themselves had been exposed to food restriction during fetal life, the effect of postnatal oxytocin treatment changed. The oxytocin-treated mothers were still fatter but had smaller fetuses. In conclusion, postnatal oxytocin treatment influences reproductive performance in later life but is dependent on the mother's previous and current nutritional experience.

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