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J Neuroendocrinol. 1993 Dec;5(6):619-28.

Gonadal steroids have paradoxical effects on brain oxytocin receptors.

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Laboratory of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA.


Specific brain receptors for oxytocin have been described in several mammalian species. The distribution of these receptors differs greatly across species and in the rat, receptor binding in specific brain regions appears to depend upon gonadal steroids. This study used in vitro receptor autoradiography to examine the effects of testosterone on oxytocin receptor binding in the mouse forebrain. Three groups of male mice were compared: castrates treated with blank capsules, castrates treated with testosterone filled capsules, and intact males. Irrespective of steroid treatment, the distribution of oxytocin receptors in mouse forebrain differed markedly from patterns previously described in the rat. In addition to these species differences in receptor distribution, testosterone had effects in the mouse which differed from the induction of receptors previously reported in the rat. In the mouse ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, binding in the untreated castrate males was approximately double that observed in either the intact or the testosterone-treated castrates. In other regions of the mouse brain, such as the intermediate zone of the lateral septum, binding to oxytocin receptors was increased with testosterone treatment. These results suggest that the brain oxytocin receptor varies across species not only in its distribution but also in its regional regulation by gonadal steroids. These apparently paradoxical changes in oxytocin receptor binding may result from either direct or indirect effects of gonadal steroids in mouse brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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