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Background/Objectives: Animal studies and pilot experiments in men indicate that the hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin limits food intake, and raise the question of its potential to improve metabolic control in obesity. Subjects/Methods: We compared the effect of central nervous oxytocin administration (24 IU) via the intranasal route on ingestive behaviour and metabolic function in 18 young obese men with the results in a group of 20 normal-weight men. In double-blind, placebo-controlled experiments, ad libitum food intake from a test buffet was examined in fasted subjects 45 min after oxytocin administration, followed by the assessment of postprandial, reward-driven snack intake. Energy expenditure was repeatedly assessed by indirect calorimetry and blood was sampled to determine concentrations of blood glucose and hormones. Results: Oxytocin markedly reduced hunger-driven food intake in the fasted state in obese but not in normal-weight men, and led to a reduction in snack consumption in both groups, whereas energy expenditure remained generally unaffected. Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis secretion and the postprandial rise in plasma glucose were blunted by oxytocin in both groups. Conclusions: Oxytocin exerts an acutely inhibitory impact on food intake that is enhanced rather than decreased in obese compared with normal-weight men. This pattern puts it in contrast to other metabolically active neuropeptides and bodes well for clinical applications of oxytocin in the treatment of metabolic disorders.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access