Oxytocinergic activity is linked to lower blood pressure and vascular resistance during stress in postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement.
ABSTRACT Estrogen administration results in increased release of the oxytocin (OT) prohormone reflected by increases in oxytocin intermediate peptide (OT Int) in both animal models and humans, and sequential treatment of ovariectomized rats with estrogen/progesterone then progesterone withdrawal leads to increased hypothalamic OT mRNA. Blood pressure (BP) reductions have been related to increased exogenous and endogenous OT in rats and to higher endogenous OT activity in premenopausal women, but not previously in postmenopausal women. Thus, we used plasma obtained at rest and during a speech stressor from 54 postmenopausal women who participated in a 6-month randomized trial of oral conjugated estrogens vs. placebo to examine effects of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) on plasma OT and OT Int levels and their relationships to changes in BP during the trial. ERT alone and with progesterone (but not placebo) led to significant increases in plasma levels of OT Int, but no change in plasma OT levels. Women showing greater increases in OT Int during treatment showed greater decreases in BP and total vascular resistance during a series of behavioral stressors compared to women with moderate or no increases in OT Int, even after controlling for effects related to treatment condition or to changes in plasma estradiol. The findings suggest that enhanced oxytocinergic activity may contribute to BP decreases associated with ERT in more responsive postmenopausal women.
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ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are male-biased and characterized by deficits in social behavior and social communication, excessive anxiety or hyperreactivity to stressful experiences, and a tendency toward repetitiveness. The purpose of this review is to consider evidence for a role for two sexually dimorphic neuropeptides, oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (VP), in these features of ASD. Both VP and OT play a role in normal development. VP is androgen-dependent and of particular importance to male behavior. Excess VP or disruptions in the VP system could contribute to the male vulnerability to ASD. Alternatively, protective processes mediated via OT or the OT receptor might help to explain the relatively rare occurrence of ASD in females. Disruptions in either OT or VP or their receptors could result from genetic variation or epigenetic modifications of gene expression, especially during early development. Deficits in other developmental growth factors, such as reelin, which may in turn regulate or be regulated by OT or VP, are additional candidates for a role in ASD.Behavioural Brain Research 02/2007; 176(1):170-86. · 3.42 Impact Factor
Article: Effects of partner support on resting oxytocin, cortisol, norepinephrine, and blood pressure before and after warm partner contact.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We examined whether the magnitude of plasma oxytocin (OT), norepinephrine (NE), cortisol, and blood pressure (BP) responses before and after a brief episode of warm contact (WC) with the spouse/partner may be related to the strength of perceived partner support. Subjects were 38 cohabiting couples (38 men, 38 women) aged 20 to 49 years. All underwent 10 minutes of resting baseline alone, 10 minutes of WC together with their partner, and 10 minutes of postcontact rest alone. Greater partner support (based on self-report) was related to higher plasma oxytocin in men and women across the protocol before and after WC. In women, higher partner support was correlated with lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) during solitary rest after WC but not before. Also, higher OT in women was linked to lower BP at baseline and to lower NE at all 4 measurements. Greater partner support is linked to higher OT for both men and women; however, the importance of OT and its potentially cardioprotective effects on sympathetic activity and BP may be greater for women.Psychosomatic Medicine 67(4):531-8. · 3.97 Impact Factor