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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    • "et al. showed that female prairie voles exposed to extended periods of social isolation displayed an increased number or oxytocin immunoreactive cells in the paraventircular nucleus of the hypothalamus.[30]Moreover, in several mammalian species, oxytocin appears to exert a tonic inhibitory influence over the HPA axis, thereby attenuating rises in cortisol in response to stress.303132Interpreted within the context of these animal studies, the inverse relationships observed between oxytocin levels and depressive symptoms among pregnant[16,17,19]and nonpregnant women[20,21]could reflect a failure of the oxytocin system to effectively adjust to stress. However, it is also possible that both high and low extremes of oxytocin levels could be observed in women experiencing depressive symptoms, such as documented in the Cyranowski "
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    ABSTRACT: There is substantial recent interest in the role of oxytocin in social and affiliative behaviors-animal models of depression have suggested a link between oxytocin and mood. We reviewed literature to date for evidence of a potential relationship between peripheral oxytocin concentration and depressive symptoms in humans. Pubmed(®) and PsychINFO(®) were searched for biomedical and social sciences literature from 1960 to May 19, 2015 for empirical articles in English involving human subjects focused on the relationship between peripheral oxytocin concentration and depressive symptoms, excluding articles on the oxytocin receptor gene, or involving exogenous (i.e. intranasal) administration of oxytocin. Eight studies meeting criteria were identified and formally reviewed. Studies of pregnant women suggested an inverse relationship between oxytocin level and depressive symptom severity. Findings in nonpregnant women were broadly consistent with the role of oxytocin release in response to stress supported by animal studies. The relationship between oxytocin and depression in men appeared to be in the opposite direction, possibly reflecting the influence of gonadal hormones on oxytocinergic functioning found in other mammalian species. Overall, small sample sizes, heterogeneity in study designs, and other methodological limitations may account for inconsistent findings. Future research utilizing reliable oxytocin measurement protocols including measurements across time, larger sample sizes, and sample homogeneity with respect to multiple possible confounders (age, gender, race and ethnicity, ovarian status among women, and psychosocial context) are needed to elucidate the role of oxytocin in the pathogenesis of depression, and could guide the design of novel pharmacologic agents.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Depression and Anxiety
    • "Increased sensitivity to sexual hormone change is not limited to the postpartum period but spans through the woman's lifetime. Considering the modulating effect of oxytocin on sexual behavior in females (Nakajima et al., 2014) and the disruption of the oxytocin system related to PPD (Skrundz et al., 2011; Stuebe et al., 2012), reversed oxytocin level in PPD could have brought on much of the loss of sexual interest in daily life. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of clinical depression that can affect women after childbirth. Few previous studies have explored the association of depressive and physical symptoms among women with PPD in a nationwide community study. Method: A total of 18,807 adults, randomly selected, completed a face-to-face interview using the Korean version of Composite International Diagnostic Interview (K-CIDI) (response rate 80.2%). PPD was defined as a major depressive episode that began within 4 weeks after delivery. Results: Of 679 female subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD), 14.0% (n=95) experienced PPD. Subjects with PPD were significantly more likely to have higher income, education, and reside in an urban area, compared to those with non-PPD. No significant differences were found in number of children. Multiple logistic regression revealed that the loss of sexual interest was the only symptom among 23 depressive symptoms that was significantly associated with depressive episodes among individuals with PPD (AOR=1.91, 95% CI 1.01-3.60) when compared with non-PPD. Loss of sexual interest was also significantly associated with the subjects with lifetime PPD regardless of depressive episode (AOR=1.93, 95% CI 1.12-3.31). Conversely, loss of confidence and loss of pleasure were less frequent in subjects with PPD. Premenstrual mood change (χ(2)=5.57, p=0.0036) and comorbid alcohol use disorder (χ(2)=5.11, p=0.031) showed a valid association with PPD. Conclusions: Loss of sexual interest and premenstrual mood change were associated with women with PPD, whereas those with non-PPD were not, thereby suggesting the possible link between sexual hormones and PPD.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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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. "

    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Hormones and Behavior
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