Postnatal Oxytocin Injections Cause Sustained Weight Gain and Increased Nociceptive Thresholds in Male and Female Rats

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The aim of the present study was to investigate possible long-term effects of postnatally administered oxytocin on weight gain, gastrointestinal hormone levels, and nociceptive thresholds in rats. For this purpose, s.c. daily injections of oxytocin (1 mg/kg) or saline (NaCl, 0.9%) were given to male and female rat pups on d 10-14 after birth. The animals were killed at the age of 60 or 94 d. Treatment with oxytocin resulted in higher body weight in males, 60 d after birth, and in females from d 60 and throughout the rest of the experiment, compared with controls. The higher body weight was due to an increased weight gain in oxytocin-treated rats, compared with controls, which was most pronounced between 40 and 60 d after birth. Oxytocin-treated male rats had increased circulating levels of cholecystokinin, a tendency to increased plasma levels of insulin (p = 0.066), and relatively more adipose tissue in the thigh and interscapular region, compared with controls. At the age of 60 d, oxytocin-treated female and male rats had a prolonged withdrawal latency when measured in the tail-flick test, compared with controls. This study shows that oxytocin can induce long-lasting changes in weight gain, hormone levels, and nociceptive thresholds, when administered postnatally, in female and male rats.

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