Plasma Oxytocin Concentration during Pregnancy is associated with Development of Postpartum Depression

Sesam-Swiss Etiological Study of Adjustment and Mental Health-National Centre of Competence in Research, Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.05). 05/2011; 36(9):1886-93. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2011.74
Source: PubMed


Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 19% of all women after parturition. The non-apeptide oxytocin (OXT) is involved in adjustment to pregnancy, maternal behavior, and bonding. Our aim was to examine the possible association between plasma OXT during pregnancy and the development of PPD symptoms. A total of 74 healthy, pregnant women were included in this prospective study. During the third trimester of pregnancy and within 2 weeks after parturition, PPD symptoms were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Blood samples for plasma OXT assessment were collected in the third trimester. Following the literature, participants with postpartum EPDS scores of 10 or more were regarded as being at risk for PPD development (rPPD group). In a logistic regression analysis, plasma OXT was included as a potential predictor for being at risk for PPD. Results were controlled for prepartal EPDS score, sociodemographic and birth-outcome variables. Plasma OXT concentration in mid-pregnancy significantly predicted PPD symptoms at 2 weeks postpartum. Compared with the no-risk-for-PPD group, the rPPD group was characterized by lower plasma OXT concentrations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show an association between prepartal plasma OXT concentration and postpartal symptoms of PPD in humans. Assuming a causal relationship, enhancing OXT release during pregnancy could serve as a potential target in prepartum PPD prevention, and help to minimize adverse effects of PPD on the mother-child relationship.

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    • "Finally, disruptions in OT functionality were found to mediate, in part, the cross-generation transfer of stress and psychopathology. For instance, maternal postpartum depression has been associated with lower peripheral OT, as observed in plasma, saliva, and urine and high-risk variant on OXTR (Apter-Levi et al., 2013; Meaney, 2001; Skrundz et al., 2011). Consistent with the notion that OT functionality is transferred from parent to child via the expression of parenting behavior , we found that children of chronically depressed mothers had lower salivary and urinary OT, that maternal OT correlated with more sensitive and less negative parenting, and that children of depressed mothers were four times more likely to receive a psychiatric diagnosis by the time they entered school. "

    Hormones and Behavior 09/2015; · 4.63 Impact Factor
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    • "ed before onset of the disorder . Oxytocin has a key role in regulating emotion , social interaction , and stress reactivity ( Carter , 1998 ; Neumann and Landgraf , 2012 ) . It is also central to normal birth , lactation , and mother – infant attachment ( Carter , 1998 ; Feldman , 2012 ) . In addition , reductions in oxytocin measured in plasma ( Skrundz et al . , 2011 ; Stuebe et al . , 2013 ) have been associated with PPD . Oxytocin exerts its effect on the cell through interaction with the oxytocin receptor gene ( OXTR ) , a G - protein coupled receptor that upon ligand binding transduces signal to the nucleus ( Gimpl and Fahrenholz , 2001 ) . Transcription of the OXTR is modulated by DNA methylatio"
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    ABSTRACT: Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 19% of women, negatively impacting maternal and infant health. Reductions in plasma oxytocin levels have been associated with PPD and heritability studies have established a genetic contribution. Epigenetic regulation of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) has been demonstrated and we hypothesized that individual epigenetic variability at OXTR may impact the development of PPD and that such variability may be central to predicting risk. This case-control study is nested within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children and included 269 cases with PPD and 276 controls matched on age group, parity, and presence or absence of depressive symptoms in pregnancy as assessed by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. OXTR DNA methylation (CpG site -934) and genotype (rs53576 and rs2254298) were assayed from DNA extracted from blood collected during pregnancy. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association of elevated symptoms of PPD with genotype, methylation, and their interaction adjusted for psychosocial factors (n = 500). There was evidence of an interaction between rs53576 and methylation in the OXTR gene amongst women who did not have depression prenatally but developed PPD (p interaction = 0.026, adjusted for covariates, n = 257). Those women with GG genotype showed 2.63 greater odds of PPD for every 10% increase in methylation level (95% CI: 1.37, 5.03), whereas methylation was unrelated to PPD amongst "A" carriers (OR = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.58, 1.73). There was no such interaction among women with PPD and prenatal depression. These data indicate that epigenetic variation that decreases expression of OXTR in a susceptible genotype may play a contributory role in the etiology of PPD.
    Frontiers in Genetics 08/2015; 6:243. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2015.00243
    • "Previous meta-analyses have identified 15: (1) lower social class, (2) life stressors during pregnancy, (3) complicated pregnancy/birth, (4) difficult relationship with family or partner, (5) lack of support from family or friends, (6) prior history of psychopathology (depression, anxiety), (7) chronic stressors postpartum (this can include problems with child care and difficult infant temperament), (8) unemployment/instability, (9) unplanned pregnancy, (10) ambivalence over becoming a pregnant, (11) poor relationship with own mother, (12) history of sexual abuse, (13) lack of a confidante, (14) bottle feeding, and (15) depression during pregnancy, with the last generally acknowledged to be the strongest predictor of PPD (Beck 2001; O'Hara and Swain 1996; Richards 1990; Seguin et al. 1999). Recent research on the biological risk factors includes studies on oxytocin (Skrundz et al. 2011) and inflammatory markers (Osborne and Monk 2013). Postpartum depression is significantly undertreated. "
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