Oxytocin (OXT) suppresses food intake and lack of OXT leads to overconsumption of sucrose. Taste bud cells were recently discovered to express OXT-receptor. In the present study we tested whether administering OXT to wild-type mice affects their licking behavior for tastants in a paradigm designed to be sensitive to taste perception. We injected C57BL/6J mice intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 10mg/kg OXT and assayed their brief-access lick responses, motivated by water deprivation, to NaCl (300mM), citric acid (20mM), quinine (0.3mM), saccharin (10mM), and a mix of MSG and IMP (100mM and 0.5mM respectively). OXT had no effect on licking for NaCl, citric acid, or quinine. A possible effect of OXT on saccharin and MSG+IMP was difficult to interpret due to unexpectedly low lick rates to water (the vehicle for all taste solutions), likely caused by the use of a high OXT dose that suppressed licking and other behaviors. A subsequent experiment focused on another preferred tastant, sucrose, and employed a much lower OXT dose (0.1mg/kg). This modification, based on our measurements of plasma OXT following i.p. injection, permitted us to elevate plasma [OXT] sufficiently to preferentially activate taste bud cells. OXT at this low dose significantly reduced licking responses to 0.3M sucrose, and overall shifted the sucrose concentration - behavioral response curves rightward (mean EC50saline=0.362M vs. EC50OXT=0.466M). Males did not differ from females under any condition in this study. We propose that circulating oxytocin is another factor that modulates taste-based behavior.
- Brief-access test
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology