A synthetic nasal formulation of the hormone oxytocin could help to reduce caloric intake after a study showed promising results for healthy men. The results of this study will be presented at The Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, CA.

Twenty-five healthy men (average age of 27) were recruited for the study; 12 were overweight or obese and 13 were a healthy weight. The men were randomly assigned to self-administer a single dose (24 IU) of oxytocin nasal spray or placebo after fasting and received breakfast an hour later. The participants were allowed to select their food choices from a menu, with all meals containing double portions. Researchers measured caloric intake following the meal. The experiment was repeated in a separate visit with the intervention group receiving the placebo and vice versa.

RELATED: New Hormone May Counter Insulin Resistance, Weight Gain

The men in the intervention group ate on average 122 fewer calories and 9 less grams of fat at the meal compared to the placebo arm. In addition, oxytocin improved metabolic measures such as insulin sensitivity. No serious side effects and no differences in side effects between oxytocin and placebo were reported.

Because oxytocin had no impact on self-reported appetite or appetite-regulating hormones measures in the participants’ blood, it is unclear how oxytocin affected caloric intake. Preclinical studies have indicated that oxytocin may be involved in appetite-regulating pathways to the brain. Additional studies are needed that include women due to the sex-specific effects of oxytocin, as well as extended trials.

For more information visit Endocrine.org.