Consequences of Early Experiences and Exposure to Oxytocin and Vasopressin Are Sexually Dimorphic

Department of Psychiatry, Brain Body Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60612, USA.
Developmental Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 2.7). 02/2009; 31(4):332-41. DOI: 10.1159/000216544
Source: PubMed


In the socially monogamous prairie vole, we have observed that small changes in early handling, as well as early hormonal manipulations can have long-lasting and sexually dimorphic effects on behavior. These changes may be mediated in part by changes in parental interactions with their young, acting on systems that rely on oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP). Knowledge of both endogenous and exogenous influences on systems that rely on OT and AVP may be helpful in understanding sexually dimorphic developmental disorders, such as autism, that are characterized by increased anxiety and deficits in social behavior.


Available from: Carol Sue Carter, Jul 07, 2014
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    • "The resultant anti-anxiolytic, anti-depressive and stress reducing effects [41, 43] appear to result from adjustments to the hypothalamic–pituitary axis, autonomic nervous system activity [44] and reward centres in the brain [43]. A multitude of physical [42], psychosocial, emotional and behavioural functions4445464748, including mental health and parental-infant bonding [49], have been attributed to this system, and, not surprisingly, disruptions within it are also implicated in a plethora of negative emotional and social phenotypic traits [50]. Studies of the relationship between mental health and the oxytocinergic system are suggestive of dysregulation [51], as lowered525354555657585960 and elevated OT and OTR levels [51,616263646566 , as well as dysregulated patterns of peripheral OT release [66], are seen in participants with depression in a variety of different observational and experimental conditions. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depressed pregnant women face difficulty navigating a course between the potentially serious consequences of leaving depression untreated and significant limitations associated with conventional therapies, such as foetal toxicity and teratogenicity. Preliminary evidence is suggestive that acupuncture may provide a safe and effective alternative treatment option for antenatal depression; however, additional research is required. The purpose of this study is to further investigate this treatment possibility, with an additional examination of a potential biomechanistic acupuncture effect. In this pragmatic randomised controlled trial, we will compare individually tailored, flexible antenatal depression-oriented acupuncture with equivalent attention progressive muscle relaxation and routine antenatal depression hospital care. Eligible women at 24 weeks of gestation with Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores of 13 or more will be recruited from 2 antenatal clinics in South Western Sydney, Australia. The recruitment goal of 96 is powered to demonstrate a significant difference in Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score severity between acupuncture and usual care, with intervention groups receiving weekly 1-h treatments for 8 weeks from 24 to 31 weeks of gestation. Mental health and quality-of-life assessments will occur at study commencement, intervention weeks 4 and 8 and 6 weeks post-natally via the collection of completed Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores, Depression, Stress and Anxiety Scale scores and World Health Organisation Quality of Life Scale scores. Adjustment to mothering will also be evaluated at 6 weeks post-natally using the Being a Mother Scale. A putative biomechanistic effect of acupuncture on the oxytocinergic system will additionally be examined by comparing baseline salivary hormone levels with those measured at intervention weeks 4 and 8, as well as leucocyte oxytocin receptor expression at baseline and intervention week 8. Ethical approval was received in February 2015, and recruitment is underway and expected to be completed in July 2016. Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12615000250538, Registered on 19 March 2015.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2016 · Trials
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    • "In rodents, following a Morris water maze test for three days, release of AVP significantly increases in the PVN after each test session [64]. Similarly, forced swimming can induce a significant increase in AVP release in both the SON and PVN that increases further in the PVN with repeated swimming [65] [62]. These studies are in agreement with our behavioral data that LPS fathers displayed higher levels of depression and anxiety-like behaviors in the forced swimming test and the social interaction test respectively, and BPS fathers showed high levels of anxiety-like behavior in the open field test. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Repeated separation from pups results in anxiety and depression-like behaviors in mothers. This level of attachment has also been established between fathers and pups in monogamous rodents. We hypothesized that brief and lengthy separation from their pups would affect emotion, social behavior and neuroendocrine parameters in socially monogamous male mandarin voles (Microtus mandarinus). The results indicate that brief pup separation (BPS) of 15min/day significantly reduced the percentage of time spent in the central area, total distance and total transition in open field tests. BPS resulted in increased sniffing and self-grooming in fathers, but reduced attacking and climbing. Long pup separation (LPS) of 3h/day suppressed attacking, sniffing, no-social investigating and digging in fathers, but increased time in immobile in social interaction and forced swimming tests. LPS upregulated levels of central oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP), serum corticosterone (CORT); BPS increased central OT and serum corticosterone only. These findings show that BPS and LPS are critical stressors for fathers and alter anxiety and depression-like and social behaviors in monogamous mandarin voles. These changes in behaviors may be associated with alteration in OT, AVP and CORT. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Physiology & Behavior
    • "A single postnatal injection of oxytocin in male prairie voles increased the probability of partner preference and reduced anxiety-like behavior in adulthood (Bales and Carter, 2003), and a neonatal dose of OXTR antagonist reduced alloparental behavior in adult male prairie voles, without affecting partner preference behavior (Bales et al, 2004). The same perinatal dose in females did not affect partner preference behavior in adulthood, although higher doses did affect partner preference behavior, but in a non-linear manner (Bales et al, 2007b; Carter et al, 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The related neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin are involved in species-typical behavior, including social recognition behavior, maternal behavior, social bonding, communication, and aggression. A wealth of evidence from animal models demonstrates significant modulation of adult social behavior by both of these neuropeptides and their receptors. Over the last decade, there has been a flood of studies in humans also implicating a role for these neuropeptides in human social behavior. Despite popular assumptions that oxytocin is a molecule of social bonding in the infant brain, less mechanistic research emphasis has been placed on the potential role of these neuropeptides in the developmental emergence of the neural substrates of behavior. This review summarizes what is known and assumed about the developmental influence of these neuropeptides and outlines the important unanswered questions and testable hypotheses. There is tremendous translational need to understand the functions of these neuropeptides in mammalian experience-dependent development of the social brain. The activity of oxytocin and vasopressin during development should inform our understanding of individual, sex, and species differences in social behavior later in life.Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews accepted article preview online, 27 May 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.120.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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