[The role of oxytocin and vasopressin in central nervous system activity and mental disorders]

Klinika Psychiatrii Dorosłych UM w Poznaniu.
Psychiatria polska (Impact Factor: 0.73). 11/2012; 46(6):1043-52.
Source: PubMed


Oxytocin and vasopressin, "peptides of love and fear", except for their classic role in control of labor and breastfeeding and blood pressure regulation, are also implicated in various processes like sexual behaviours, social recognition and stress response. These hormones seems to be essential for appropriate and beneficial social interactions, play a very important role in maternal care and closeness, promote general trust and cooperation and prolong social memory. They also play a very important role in modulating fear and anxiety response, especially by regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and amygdala activity by its projections to the brain stem and hypothalamic structures. Both hormones, particularly oxytocin, appears to be activating sexual behaviour or is responsible for increased sexual arousal. Evidence from clinical trials suggests their potential role in pathogenesis of schizophrenia, depression, autism and addiction together with possible therapeutic use in the above conditions. In schizophrenia, patients with higher peripheral oxytocin levels showed less severe positive, general and social symptoms and better prosocial behaviours. Literature suggests that exogenous oxytocin may be effective as an adjunctive therapy for that illness. Some data suggest that naturally occurring autoantibodies reacting with oxytocin and vasopressin are involved in depression, eating disorders and conduct disorder genesis.

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