Odor Sensitivity After Intranasal Insulin Application is Modulated by Gender
Obesity constitutes a global health care problem, and often eating habits are to blame. For intervention, a thorough understanding of energy intake and expenditure is needed. In recent years, the pivotal role of insulin in connection to energy intake was established. Olfactory sensitivity may be a target of cerebral insulin action to maintain body weight. With this experiment, we aimed to explore the influence of intranasal insulin on olfactory sensitivity for the odors n-butanol and peanut in a placebo-controlled, double-blind setting in a within-subject design. All subjects participated in two experimental sessions on separate days and received either intranasal insulin or placebo in a pseudorandomized order. Application was followed by two olfactory threshold tests for n-butanol and peanut in a pseudorandomized order. After a single dose of intranasal insulin (40 IU) or placebo (0.4 ml), olfactory sensitivity for the odorants n-butanol and peanut were examined in 30 healthy normosmic participants (14 females). Measured blood parameters revealed no decrease in plasma glucose, however, insulin, leptin and cortisol levels were affected following intranasal application. Females' but not males' olfactory sensitivity for n-butanol was lower after intranasal insulin administration vs. placebo. In contrast, olfactory sensitivity for peanut was not influenced by intranasal insulin application. Our results indicate that the effects of cortical insulin levels on processing of specific odors is likely modulated by gender, as central increase of insulin concentration led to a reduced olfactory sensitivity for n-butanol in women only, which might be due to differentially regulated insulin and leptin signaling in men and women.