Although it has been reported that oxytocin stimulates lipolysis in adipocytes, changes in the expression of oxytocin receptor (OTR) mRNA in adipogenesis are still unknown. The present study aimed to investigate the expression of OTR mRNA during adipocyte differentiation and fat accumulation in adipocytes. OTR mRNA was highly expressed in adipocytes prepared from mouse adipose tissues compared to stromal-vascular cells. OTR mRNA expression was increased during the adipocyte differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells. OTR expression levels were higher in subcutaneous and epididymal adipose tissues of 14-week-old male mice compared to 7-week-old male mice. Levels of OTR mRNA expression were higher in adipose tissues at four different sites of mice fed a high-fat diet than in those of mice fed a normal diet. The OTR expression level was also increased by refeeding for 4 h after fasting for 16 h. Oxytocin significantly induced lipolysis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In conclusion, a new regulatory mechanism is demonstrated for oxytocin to control the differentiation and fat accumulation in adipocytes via activation of OTR as a part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adipose axis.
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