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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1998 Nov;23(8):989-1004.

Oxytocin receptor mRNA expression in rat brain: implications for behavioral integration and reproductive success.

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Eli Lilly and Company, Lilly Corporate Headquarters, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA.


The nonapeptide, oxytocin (OT), has been implicated in a wide range of physiological, behavioral and pharmacological effects related to learning and memory, parturition and lactation, maternal and sexual behavior, and the formation of social attachments. Specific G-protein linked membrane bound OT receptors mediate OTs effects. The unavailability of highly selective pharmacological ligands that discriminate the OT receptor from the highly homologous vasopressin receptors (V1a, V1b and V2 subtypes) has made it difficult to confirm specific effects of oxytocin, particularly in brain regions where OT and multiple AVP receptor subtypes may be coexpressed. Here, data on the oxytocin receptor (OTR) messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) localization in brain are presented in the context of a model that proposes a reproductive state-dependent role for steroid-hormone restructuring of neural circuits, and a role for oxytocin in the integration of neural transmission in pathways subserving: (1) steroid-sensitive reproductive behaviors; (2) learning; and (3) reinforcement. It is hypothesized that social attachments emerge as a consequence of a conditioned association between OT-related activity in these pathways and the eliciting stimulus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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