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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Feb;43(3):638-645. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.226. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

Effects of Intranasal Oxytocin on the Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent Signal in Food Motivation and Cognitive Control Pathways in Overweight and Obese Men.

Author information

1
Neuroendocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
2
Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Division of Neurotherapeutics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA.
4
Clinical Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
5
Division of Women's Health, Department of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
7
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Charlestown, MA, USA.
8
Center for Morphometric Analysis, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

Recent research indicates that the hypothalamic neuropeptide hormone oxytocin is a key central nervous system factor in the regulation of food intake and weight. However, the mechanisms underlying the anorexigenic effects of oxytocin in humans are unknown and critical to study to consider oxytocin as a neurohormonal weight loss treatment. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study with single-dose intranasal oxytocin (24 IU) in ten overweight or obese, otherwise healthy men. Following oxytocin/placebo administration, participants completed an established functional magnetic resonance imaging food motivation paradigm. We hypothesized that oxytocin would reduce the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal to high-calorie food vs non-food visual stimuli in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the origin of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system. Following oxytocin administration, compared to placebo, participants showed bilateral VTA hypoactivation to high-calorie food stimuli. A secondary exploratory whole-brain analysis revealed hypoactivation in additional hedonic (orbitofrontal cortex, insula, globus pallidus, putamen, hippocampus, and amygdala) and homeostatic (hypothalamus) food motivation and hyperactivation in cognitive control (anterior cingulate and frontopolar cortex) brain regions following oxytocin administration vs placebo. Oxytocin administration reduces the BOLD signal in reward-related food motivation brain regions, providing a potential neurobiological mechanism for the anorexigenic oxytocin effects in humans. Furthermore, our data indicate that oxytocin administration reduces activation in homeostatic and increases activation in cognitive control brain regions critically involved in regulating food intake and resolving affective conflict, respectively. Future studies are required to link these changes in brain activation to oxytocin effects on food intake and weight.

PMID:
28930284
PMCID:
PMC5770767
[Available on 2019-02-01]
DOI:
10.1038/npp.2017.226

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