More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women. Biol Psychol

Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Biological Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 05/2005; 69(1):5-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.002
Source: PubMed


In animals, ventral stroking for >5 days increases oxytocin (OT) activity and decreases blood pressure (BP), but related human studies are few. Thus, relationships between self-reported frequency of partner hugs, plasma OT and BP levels were examined in 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands/partners ending with hugs. Higher baseline OT before partner contact was associated with lower BP and heart rate, and met criteria to be a partial mediator of the lower resting BP shown by women reporting more frequent hugs (P<0.05). OT levels during post-contact stress were unrelated to hugs or BP. Menstrual cycle phase did not influence any OT measure. Thus, frequent hugs between spouses/partners are associated with lower BP and higher OT levels in premenopausal women; OT-mediated reduction in central adrenergic activity and peripheral effects of OT on the heart and vasculature are pathways to examine in future research.

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Available from: Karen M Grewen
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    • "The converse may also occur, with neuropeptide levels changing in response to behavioral variations in socio-sexual and affiliative behavior . For instance, partner support modulates the rise of OT plasma levels in both men and women [15] and physical contact (such as massaging, hugging and/or grooming) promotes the elevation of OT levels in humans and other primates and also in rodents [8] [16] [17]. In pairbonded tamarins, OT levels relate to the amount of grooming and mutual contact in females and sexual behavior of males [18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Animals establish privileged relationships with specific partners, which are treated differently from other conspecifics, and contribute to behavioral variation. However, there is limited information on the underlying physiological mechanisms involved in the establishment of these privileged ties and their relationship to individual cooperation levels. The Indo-Pacific bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus often forages in mixed-sex pairs when cleaning fish clients. Intra-couple conflicts often arise during a joint client inspection, which may alter the overall quality of cleaning service provided. Here we tested two hypotheses: a) whether intra-pair association (i.e. association index), measured with joint interspecific cleaning and intraspecific behavior, is correlated with neuroendocrine mechanisms involving forebrain neuropeptides arginine vasotocin (AVT) and isotocin (IT) and b) whether these neuropeptide level shifts relate to an individual's interspecific service quality. We found that partner support (number of cleaning interactions and tactile stimulation) received by male cleaners increased with association index. When cleaners inspected clients alone, cleaners' cheating decreased with association index for females but not males. AVT levels did not differ according to sex or association level. Forebrain IT levels increased with association index for males, whereas no relationship was found for females. Finally, cleaner cheating varied between sex and forebrain IT levels. Findings indicate that variation in pairs' relationships influences male and female cleaner fish differently and contributes to the variation of brain neuropeptide levels, which is linked to distinct cooperative outcomes. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Physiology & Behavior
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    • "e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / p h b quality, more frequent partner's massages and hugs, and greater social support were related to higher OT levels [19] [28] [29]. Larger social networks , fewer negative marital interactions, less attachment avoidance, and more attachment security were related to greater endogenous AVP levels [18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Prior studies have reported associations between plasma oxytocin and vasopressin and markers of social functioning. However, because most human studies have used cross-sectional designs, it is unclear whether plasma oxytocin and vasopressin influences social functioning or whether social functioning modulates the production and peripheral release of these peptides. In order to address this question, we followed individuals who experienced major changes in social functioning subsequent to the migration to a new country. In this study, 59 new international students were recruited shortly after arrival in the host country and reassessed 2 and 5 months later. At each assessment participants provided information on their current social functioning and blood samples for oxytocin and vasopressin analysis. Results indicated that changes in social functioning were not related to changes in plasma oxytocin. Instead, baseline oxytocin predicted changes in social relationship satisfaction, social support, and loneliness over time. In contrast, plasma vasopressin changed as a function of social integration. Baseline vasopressin was not related to changes in social functioning over time. These results emphasize the different roles of plasma oxytocin and vasopressin in responses to changes in social functioning in humans.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Physiology & Behavior
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    • "stress axis activity (Shahrestani et al., 2013), findings in humans are much more ambiguous. It has been reported, for instance, that acute stress stimulates OXT secretion at least in specific subsamples (Pierrehumbert et al., 2010; Sanders et al., 1990; Seltzer et al., 2013), whereas two studies failed to find any OXT response to a psychosocial stressor (Grewen et al., 2005; Light et al., 2005). Recently, Cardoso et al. (2013) demonstrated that OXT attenuates the cortisol response elicited by physical stress. "
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    ABSTRACT: Essentially all social species experience social stress which can be a catalyst for detriments in mental and physical health. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been shown to produce anxiolytic and antistress effects, thereby qualifying the OXT system as a promising drug target in the treatment of stress-related disorders. However, recently it has been shown that OXT can have anxiogenic effects as well. In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 60 healthy men while they were exposed to social stress after they received either intranasal OXT (24 IU) or placebo treatment. Although OXT administration did not alter salivary cortisol levels as a surrogate marker of stress axis activity, our participants initially reported an increment in perceived social stress. This behavioral effect was paralleled on the neural level by increased activity in the precuneus and cingulate cortex. Taken together, our results support the hypothesis that OXT can induce a self-referential processing bias which facilitates the sensation of social stress in the absence of altered endocrine responses. Hum Brain Mapp, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Human Brain Mapping
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