Oxytocin sprays reduces food intake and increases self-control

A single dose of oxytocin is known to reduce the food intake; a study showed that its single dose also reduces the impulsive behaviour in overweight and obese men.

Oxytocin nasal spray contains a synthetic version of oxytocin hormone. Oxytocin hormone plays a significant role in controlling our food habits.

Last year Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital reported that oxytocin nasal spray (made by Novartis) reduces the intake of calories and fat in a test meal. Their new pilot study on ten men ranged in age from 23 to 43 years and was overweight or obese (BMI ranging from 27.7-33.9 kg/m2) showed that oxytocin reduces the food intake by providing self-control to the person.

Oxytocin sprays reduces food intake and increases self-control

To demonstrate the study, the investigator conducted a psychological test called stop- signal task. In this test, the participant sat in front of a computer and was trained to respond to a square symbol on the computer screen by pressing a designated left button on the keyboard and to a triangle by pressing a right button.  After he became familiar with the task, he is asked not to press it when the symbol appears but when he hears a beep.

The beep occurred after the symbols appeared but in varying delay. The test was taken 15 minutes after the dose was given. In random order, one day they were given oxytocin and the other day they were given a placebo, a dummy drug. Neither the participant nor the tester knew the drug they took.

According to a preliminary study to be presented Saturday at the Endocrine Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston the participant very less frequently pressed the wrong button when he took oxytocin.

An instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a co-investigator, Franziska Plessow, Ph.D., said that knowing the mechanisms of action of intranasal oxytocin was essential for investigating oxytocin as a novel treatment strategy for obesity. He added that this information may allow them to move forward to large clinical trials, identify who can benefit from the drug, and help optimize the treatment.

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