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J Neuroendocrinol. 2012 Apr;24(4):587-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02300.x.

Roles of oxytocin neurones in the control of stress, energy metabolism, and social behaviour.

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Division of Brain and Neurophysiology, Department of Physiology, Jichi Medical University, Shinotsuke-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.


Oxytocin neurones are activated by stressful stimuli, food intake and social attachment. Activation of oxytocin neurones in response to stressful stimuli or food intake is mediated, at least in part, by noradrenaline/prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) neurones in the nucleus tractus solitarius, whereas oxytocin neurones are activated after social stimuli via medial amygdala neurones. Activation of oxytocin neurones induces the release of oxytocin not only from their axon terminals, but also from their dendrites. Oxytocin acts locally where released or diffuses and acts on remote oxytocin receptors widely distributed within the brain, resulting in anxiolytic, anorexic and pro-social actions. The action sites of oxytocin appear to be multiple. Oxytocin shows anxiolytic actions, at least in part, via serotoninergic neurones in the median raphe nucleus, has anorexic actions via pro-opiomelanocortin neurones in the nucleus tractus solitarius and facilitates social recognition via the medial amygdala. Stress, obesity and social isolation are major risk factors for mortality in humans. Thus, the oxytocin-oxytocin receptor system is a therapeutic target for the promotion of human health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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