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Oxytocin effects on chemosensory function in a clinical setting—a preliminary study


Burke, Sarah M; Graf, Regula; Ochsenbein-Kölble, Nicole; Hummel, Thomas (2015). Oxytocin effects on chemosensory function in a clinical setting—a preliminary study. Chemosensory Perception, 8(4):159-166.

Abstract

Background: Despite the large body of literature on the effects of oxytocin via the exchange of social chemo-signals, no previous study tested the effects of oxytocin stimulation during parturition on the mother’s chemical senses. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the effects of oxytocin, administered via intramyometrial and intravenous injection, on general odor processing andgustatory functioning in women shortly after giving birth via Caesarean section.
Methods: General olfactory and gustatory sensitivity, and subjectively perceived taste intensities and hedonic ratings, next to self-reported mood and nausea were assessed 1 day before the Caesarean section in 21 women and again a few hours after the oxytocin stimulations.
Results: We found no changes in general olfactory sensitivity, self-reported mood, or nausea between test sessions. However, following oxytocin, women rated the quality of sweet taste as significantly more positive and tended to exhibit higher gustatory sensitivity.
Conclusions: Although this study was performed in a highly controlled clinical environment, we cannot rule out potential confounders related to parturition, and our interpretation on the specific effects of oxytocin therefore is limited. However, our findings agree with the literature reporting oxytocin effects on chemo-sensory functions. We speculate that an increased preference for sweet taste might be particularly relevant during the early post-partum and breastfeeding period, facilitating thenecessary nutrient supply to the newborn via the intake of calorie-rich carbohydrate food.

Abstract

Background: Despite the large body of literature on the effects of oxytocin via the exchange of social chemo-signals, no previous study tested the effects of oxytocin stimulation during parturition on the mother’s chemical senses. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the effects of oxytocin, administered via intramyometrial and intravenous injection, on general odor processing andgustatory functioning in women shortly after giving birth via Caesarean section.
Methods: General olfactory and gustatory sensitivity, and subjectively perceived taste intensities and hedonic ratings, next to self-reported mood and nausea were assessed 1 day before the Caesarean section in 21 women and again a few hours after the oxytocin stimulations.
Results: We found no changes in general olfactory sensitivity, self-reported mood, or nausea between test sessions. However, following oxytocin, women rated the quality of sweet taste as significantly more positive and tended to exhibit higher gustatory sensitivity.
Conclusions: Although this study was performed in a highly controlled clinical environment, we cannot rule out potential confounders related to parturition, and our interpretation on the specific effects of oxytocin therefore is limited. However, our findings agree with the literature reporting oxytocin effects on chemo-sensory functions. We speculate that an increased preference for sweet taste might be particularly relevant during the early post-partum and breastfeeding period, facilitating thenecessary nutrient supply to the newborn via the intake of calorie-rich carbohydrate food.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Obstetrics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:27 Aug 2015 06:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:21
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1936-5802
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12078-015-9185-8

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