High-Sugar, but Not High-Fat, Food Activates Supraoptic Nucleus Neurons in the Male Rat.Endocrinology. 2017 07 01; 158(7):2200-2211.E
Oxytocin is a potent anorexigen and is believed to have a role in satiety signaling. We developed rat models to study the activity of oxytocin neurons in response to voluntary consumption or oral gavage of foods using c-Fos immunohistochemistry and in vivo electrophysiology. Using c-Fos expression as an indirect marker of neural activation, we showed that the percentage of magnocellular oxytocin neurons expressing c-Fos increased with voluntary consumption of sweetened condensed milk (SCM). To model the effect of food in the stomach, we gavaged anesthetized rats with SCM. The percentage of supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus magnocellular oxytocin-immunoreactive neurons expressing c-Fos increased with SCM gavage but not with gastric distention. To further examine the activity of the supraoptic nucleus, we made in vivo electrophysiological recordings from SON neurons, where anesthetized rats were gavaged with SCM or single cream. Pharmacologically identified oxytocin neurons responded to SCM gavage with a linear, proportional, and sustained increase in firing rate, but cream gavage resulted in a transient reduction in firing rate. Blood glucose increased after SCM gavage but not cream gavage. Plasma osmolarity and plasma sodium were unchanged throughout. We show that in response to high-sugar, but not high-fat, food in the stomach, there is an increase in the activity of oxytocin neurons. This does not appear to be a consequence of stomach distention or changes in osmotic pressure. Our data suggest that the presence of specific foods with different macronutrient profiles in the stomach differentially regulates the activity of oxytocin neurons.