Oxytocin as Part of Stress Responses

  • W. K. Samson
  • R. J. Mogg
Part of the Current Topics in Neuroendocrinology book series (CT NEUROENDOCRI, volume 10)


The nonapeptide oxytocin (OT) is produced primarily in magnocellular elements of the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, and in addition to its release from axon terminals in the neural lobe, convincing evidence exists for delivery and release into other brain sites. The hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic distributions of OT-containing neural elements (Sawchenko and Swanson 1985; Weindl and Sofroniew 1985) formed the anatomical basis for the examination of many behavioral actions of the peptide related to its primary hormonal effects in the periphery (e.g., maternal behavior as a central nervous system correlate of the milk-ejection reflex; see Pedersen et al., this volume). Additional actions of OT within the brain were predicted (see Van Wimersma Greidanus and Van Ree, this volume) on the basis of its structural homology with the other nonapeptide of magnocellular origin, vasopressin (AVP). An earlier volume in this series (Ganten and Pfaff 1986) has been devoted exclusively to the classic aspects of OT physiology, and therefore this review will not reiterate in great detail the previous descriptions of the biosynthesis and processing of OT (Ivell 1986; Burbach 1986), regulation of release (Forsling 1986), general behavioral aspects (Kovacs 1986), or the hormonal actions of the nonapeptide in the mammary gland (Robinson 1986) or the uterus and ovary (Wathes et al. 1986). Instead, this review focuses on the possible role played by OT as a neuroendocrine peptide controlling the anterior pituitary response to stress. Evidence is reviewed which suggests a physiological role for the nonapeptide in the hypothalamic control of the release of two adenohypophysial hormones which are part of the stress response, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and prolactin (PRL), and the controversial role that OT might play in the stress-induced inhibition of gonadotropin secretion is detailed.


Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide Atrial Natriuretic Factor Supraoptic Nucleus Oxytocin Release 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. K. Samson
  • R. J. Mogg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyUniversity of Missouri, School of MedicineColumbiaUSA

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