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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Chapter: Genetics of Human Social Behaviour[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Our species, Homo sapiens, displays the most multifaceted social behaviour ever to evolve, far exceeding all other social species from eusocial insects to our nearest primate relatives. This intricate social behaviour underpins our remarkable success in evolving from cooperation in small bands of hunter gatherers �100000 yearsagoto the apex of globalisation that characterises the twenty-first century political and economic institutions. Although our social brains are remarkably flexible, a significant part of our social behaviour is hardwired and embedded in our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) code. The human mind is not a tabula rasa, and our behaviour is constrained to a significant extent by our genes. That is not to say that environmentis unimportant; along with the genetic code, the interaction between environmentand genes makes us who we are. The overall role of genes and environment is revealed firstly by twin studies and then by leveraging the human genome project. The latter enables the identification of specific genes that, together with the environment, contribute to individual differences in human social behaviour.11/2013;
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ABSTRACT: Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is heritable and neurodevelopmental with unknown causes. The serotonergic and oxytocinergic systems are of interest in autism for several reasons: (i) Both systems are implicated in social behavior, and abnormal levels of serotonin and oxytocin have been found in people with ASD; (ii) treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and oxytocin can yield improvements; and (iii) previous association studies have linked the serotonin transporter (SERT; SLC6A4), serotonin receptor 2A (HTR2A), and oxytocin receptor (OXTR) genes with ASD. We examined their association with high functioning autism (HFA) including siblings and their interaction. Methods: In this association study with HFA children (IQ > 80), siblings, and controls, participants were genotyped for four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in OXTR (rs2301261, rs53576, rs2254298, rs2268494) and one in HTR2A (rs6311) as well as the triallelic HTTLPR (SERT polymorphism). Results: We identified a nominal significant association with HFA for the HTTLPR s allele (consisting of S and LG alleles) (p = .040; odds ratio (OR) = 1.697, 95% CI 1.191–2.204)). Four polymorphisms (HTTLPR, HTR2A rs6311, OXTR rs2254298 and rs53576) in combination conferred nominal significant risk for HFA with a genetic score of ≥4 (OR = 2.09, 95% CI 1.05–4.18, p = .037). The resulting area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.595 (p = .033). Conclusions: Our findings, combined with those of previous reports, indicate that ASD, in particular HFA, is polygenetic rather than monogenetic and involves the serotonergic and oxytocin pathways, probably in combination with other factors.Journal of Molecular Psychiatry. 01/2014; 2(1):1.
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ABSTRACT: Primates and other mammals show measurable, heritable variation in behav-ioral traits such as gregariousness, timidity, and aggression. Connections among be-havior, environment, neuroanatomy, and genetics are complex, but small genetic differences can have large effects on behavioral phenotypes. One of the best examples of a single gene with large effects on natural variation in social behavior is AVPR1A, which codes for a receptor of the peptide hormone arginine vasopressin. Work on rodents shows a likely causal association between AVPR1A regulatory polymorphisms and social behavior. Chimpanzees also show variation in the AVPR1A regulatory region, with some individuals lacking a ca. 350-bp segment corresponding to a putative functional element. Thus, chimpanzees have a "short" allele (segment deletion) and a "long" allele (no deletion) at this locus. Here we compare AVPR1A variation in two chimpanzee populations, and we examine behavioral and hormonal data in relation to AVPR1A genotypes. We genotyped AVPR1A in a captive population of western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus, New Iberia Research Center; N = 64) for whichInternational Journal of Primatology 01/2014; · 1.79 Impact Factor