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Physiol Behav. 2010 Sep 1;101(2):193-210. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.05.004. Epub 2010 May 20.

Oxytocin-messages via the cerebrospinal fluid: behavioral effects; a review.

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Department of Anatomy (109), UMC St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) usually is considered as a protective 'nutrient and waste control' system for the brain. Recent findings suggest, however, that the composition of CSF is actively controlled and may play an influential role in the changes in brain activity, underlying different behavioral states. In the present review, we present an overview of available data concerning the release of oxytocin into the CSF, the location of the oxytocin-receptive brain areas and the behavioral effects of intracerebroventricular oxytocin. About 80% of the oxytocin-receptive areas are located close to the ventricular or subarachnoid CSF, including the hypothalamic 'Behavior Control Column' (L.W.Swanson, 2003). As a conclusion we suggest that 'CSF-oxytocin' contributes considerably to the non-synaptic communication processes involved in hypothalamic-, brainstem- and olfactory brain areas and behavioral states and that the flowing CSF is used as a 'broadcasting system' to send coordinated messages to a wide variety of nearby and distant brain areas.

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