The "love" hormone, oxytocin, produces novel anti-obese and anti-metabolic-syndrome effects, say Japanese researchers. Their findings, presented today at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, indicate that the hormone helps regulate food intake and energy metabolism without causing adverse effects.
Secreted by the brain, oxytocin helps initiate contractions of the uterus and breast-milk-producing glands during childbirth and nursing. Prior research by lead researcher Yuko Maejima, also linked oxytocin to the process of controlling energy intake and use.
"These findings reveal novel anti-obese and anti-metabolic-syndrome effects of oxytocin," said Maejima, from Jichi Medical University in Shimotsuke, Japan. "Thus, our results provide an avenue for developing an oxytocin-based effective and safe treatment of obesity."
In an obese animal model, Maejima found that daily injections of oxytocin reduced the amount of food the animals consumed, as well as decreased their body weight during, and after, treatment.
Similar results were observed with oxytocin administered by implanted mini pumps. This drug-delivery method also reduced fat in the liver, improved glucose tolerance, and decreased abdominal fat, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the mini pumps decreased the size of fat-storage cells, or adipocytes, but did not adversely affect blood pressure or activity levels.
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Source: The Endocrine Society