Olszewski, P. K., Waas, J. R., Brooks, L. L., Herisson, F., & Levine, A. S. (2013). Oxytocin receptor blockade reduces acquisition but not retrieval of taste aversion and blunts responsiveness of amygdala neurons to an aversive stimulus. Peptides, 50, 36-41.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8039
When gastrointestinal sickness induced by toxin injection is associated with exposure to novel food, the animal acquires a conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Malaise is accompanied by a surge in oxytocin release and in oxytocin neuronal activity; however, it is unclear whether oxytocin is a key facilitator of aversion or merely its marker. Herein we investigated whether blockade of the oxytocin receptor with the blood–brain barrier penetrant oxytocin receptor antagonist L-368,899 is detrimental for the acquisition and/or retrieval of lithium chloride (LiCl)-dependent CTA to a saccharin solution in mice. We also examined whether L-368,899 given prior to LiCl affects neuronal activity defined through c-Fos immunohistochemistry in select brain sites facilitating CTA acquisition. L-368,899 given prior to LiCl caused a 30% increase in saccharin solution intake in a two-bottle test, but when the antagonist was administered before the two-bottle test, it failed to diminish the retrieval of an existing CTA. LiCl administration increased c-Fos expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, area postrema, nucleus of the solitary tract and basolateral and central (CNA) nuclei of the amygdala. L-368,899 injected before LiCl reduced the number of c-Fos positive CNA neurons and brought it down to levels similar to those observed in mice treated only with L-368,899. We conclude that oxytocin is one of the key components in acquisition of LiCl-induced CTA and the aversive response can be alleviated by the oxytocin receptor blockade. Oxytocin receptor antagonism blunts responsiveness of CNA to peripherally injected LiCl.