Localization of oxytocin binding sites in the human brainstem and upper spinal cord: an autoradiographic study.

Department of Physiology, University Medical Center, Geneva, Switzerland.
Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.83). 11/1989; 500(1-2):223-30. DOI: 10.1016/0006-8993(89)90317-X
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Two different ligands, tritiated oxytocin and a newly synthesized and monoiodinated oxytocin antagonist, were used to reveal sites which bind oxytocin in the brainstem and upper spinal cord of 12 human subjects. Tissue sections were incubated with either ligand at a concentration close to their respective dissociation constants determined in human uterus and rat brain. Specificity of binding was assessed in presence of unlabelled oxytocin in excess. Comparable results were obtained using tritiated or iodinated ligand. Labelling was most intense in the substantia nigra pars compacta, the substantiae gelatinosae of the caudal spinal trigeminal nucleus and of the dorsal horn of the upper spinal cord, as well as in the medio-dorsal region of the nucleus of the solitary tract. Binding was also detected in the rest of the nucleus of the solitary tract and in other areas, including the oral and interpolar parts of the spinal trigeminal nucleus, the hypoglossal nucleus and the area postrema. Presence of oxytocin binding sites in regions concerned with sensory, autonomic and motor processing suggests that oxytocin could act as a neurotransmitter or neuromodulator in the human central nervous system.

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