The hormone oxytocin reduces the communication between different brain areas involved in the cognitive, sensory and emotional processing of food cues that people with obesity demonstrate when they look at high-calorie foods, according to research being presented Monday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, La.

The work may bring the synthetic nasal formulation of oxytocin a step closer to possible use as a new obesity treatment. Known more for its role in social bonding, childbirth and breastfeeding, oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that is also important for controlling food intake and weight. Past research shows that oxytocin nasal spray, which is not yet approved in the United States, acts on brain pathways involved in eating behavior and decreases food consumption in men.

Link to full Endocrine Society release on presentation by MGH investigator Liya Kerem.