Arginine Vasopressin and Oxytocin Modulate Human Social Behavior
ABSTRACT Increasing evidence suggests that two nonapeptides, arginine vasopressin and oxytocin, shape human social behavior in both nonclinical and clinical subjects. Evidence is discussed that in autism spectrum disorders genetic polymorphisms in the vasopressin–oxytocin pathway, notably the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a), the oxytocin receptor (OXTR), neurophysin I and II, and CD38 (recently shown to be critical for social behavior by mediating oxytocin secretion) contribute to deficits in socialization skills in this group of patients. We also present first evidence that CD38 expression in lymphoblastoid cells derived from subjects diagnosed with autism is correlated with social skill phenotype inventoried by the Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales. Additionally, we discuss molecular genetic evidence that in nonclinical subjects both AVPR1a and OXTR genes contribute to prosocial or altruistic behavior inventoried by two experimental paradigms, the dictator game and social values orientation. The role of the AVPR1a is also analyzed in prepulse inhibition. Prepulse inhibition of the startle response to auditory stimuli is a largely autonomic response that resonates with social cognition in both animal models and humans. First results are presented showing that intranasal administration of arginine vasopressin increases salivary cortisol levels in the Trier Social Stress test. To summarize, accumulating studies employing a broad array of cutting-edge tools in psychology, neuroeconomics, molecular genetics, pharmacology, electrophysiology, and brain imaging are beginning to elaborate the intriguing role of oxytocin and arginine vasopressin in human social behavior. We expect that future studies will continue this advance and deepen our understanding of these complex events.
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ABSTRACT: In mammals the neonatal period is a time of significant social interaction. This is true even in solitary species as females spend a significant amount of time nursing and caring for their offspring. In social species interactions may also include the father, older siblings and extended family members. This period is a time of significant development, including organization of the central nervous system, and therefore a time when the degree and type of social interaction influences the development and expression of social behavior in adulthood. The purpose of this review is to examine the possible mechanisms for the epigenetic effects of early social experience on the subsequent expression of social behavior. We propose that social interactions during the neonatal period organize the subsequent expression of behavior by altering sensitivity to neuropeptides and steroids. Both neuropeptides (e.g. oxytocin and arginine vasopressin) and steroids (e.g. estrogen) regulate or influence the expression of behaviors such as affiliation, aggression, sociosexual behavior, parental behavior, and responses to stress. Therefore, changes in sensitivity to these hormones via reorganization of receptors or changes in hormone production and secretion are potentially powerful mechanisms through which early social experience can mold subsequent social behaviors.Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 02/2005; 29(7):1089-105. · 9.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The authors adopt an interdependence analysis of social value orientation, proposing that prosocial, individualistic, and competitive orientations are (a) partially rooted in different patterns of social interaction as experienced during the periods spanning early childhood to young adulthood and (b) further shaped by different patterns of social interaction as experienced during early adulthood, middle adulthood, and old age. Congruent with this analysis, results revealed that relative to individualists and competitors, prosocial individuals exhibited greater levels of secure attachment (Studies 1 and 2) and reported having more siblings, especially sisters (Study 3). Finally, the prevalence of prosocials increased--and the prevalence of individualists and competitors decreased--from early adulthood to middle adulthood and old age (Study 4).Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 11/1997; 73(4):733-46. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Evidence both from animal and human studies suggests that common polymorphisms in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene are likely candidates to confer risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In lower mammals, oxytocin is important in a wide range of social behaviors, and recent human studies have shown that administration of oxytocin modulates behavior in both clinical and non-clinical groups. Additionally, two linkage studies and two recent association investigations also underscore a possible role for the OXTR gene in predisposing to ASD. We undertook a comprehensive study of all 18 tagged SNPs across the entire OXTR gene region identified using HapMap data and the Haploview algorithm. Altogether 152 subjects diagnosed with ASDs (that is, DSM IV autistic disorder or pervasive developmental disorder--NOS) from 133 families were genotyped (parents and affected siblings). Both individual SNPs and haplotypes were tested for association using family-based association tests as provided in the UNPHASED set of programs. Significant association with single SNPs and haplotypes (global P-values <0.05, following permutation test adjustment) were observed with ASD. Association was also observed with IQ and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS). In particular, a five-locus haplotype block (rs237897-rs13316193-rs237889-rs2254298-rs2268494) was significantly associated with ASD (nominal global P=0.000019; adjusted global P=0.009) and a single haplotype (carried by 7% of the population) within that block showed highly significant association (P=0.00005). This is the third association study, in a third ethnic group, showing that SNPs and haplotypes in the OXTR gene confer risk for ASD. The current investigation also shows association with IQ and total VABS scores (as well as the communication, daily living skills and socialization subdomains), suggesting that this gene shapes both cognition and daily living skills that may cross diagnostic boundaries.Molecular psychiatry 09/2007; 13(10):980-8. · 15.05 Impact Factor