Oxytocin Signaling Pathway: From Cell Biology To Clinical Implications

Author: Michele Iovino 1, Tullio Messana 2, Anna Tortora 1, Consuelo Giusti 1, Giuseppe Lisco 3, Vito Angelo Giagulli 1, Edoardo Guastamacchia 1, Giovanni De Pergola 4, Vincenzo Triggiani 1
Author Information:
1 Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases. University of Bari "Aldo Moro", School of Medicine, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari. Italy.
2 Infantile Neuropsychiatry, IRCCS - Institute of Neurological Sciences, Bologna. Italy.
3 Hospital Unit of Endocrinology, Perrino Hospital, Brindisi. Italy.
4 Clinical Nutrition Unit, Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology, University of Bari, School of Medicine, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari. Italy.
Conference/Journal: Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets
Date published: 2020 May 19
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.2174/1871530320666200520093730 , Word Count: 267

PMID: 32433011 DOI: 10.2174/1871530320666200520093730
Background: In addition to the well known role played on lactation and parturition, Oxytocin (OT) and OT receptor (OTR) are involved in many other aspects such as the control of maternal and social behavior, the regulation of the growth of the neocortex, the maintenance of blood supply to the cortex, the stimulation of limbic olfactory area to mother-infant recognition bond, and the modulation of the autonomic nervous system via vagal pathway. Moreover, OT and OTR show anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-pain, antidiabetic, anti-dyslipidemic and anti-atherogenic effects.

Objective: The aim of this narrative review is to summarize the main data coming from the literature dealing with the role of OT and OTR in physiology and pathologic conditions focusing on the most relevant aspects.

Methods: Appropriate keywords and MeSH terms were identified and searched in Pubmed. Finally, references of original articles and reviews were examined.

Results: We report the most significant and updated data about the role played by OT and OTR in physiology and in different clinical context.

Conclusion: Emerging evidence indicates the involvement of OT system in several pathophysiological mechanisms influencing brain anatomy, cognition, language, sense of safety and trust and maternal behavior, with a possible use of exogenous administered OT in the treatment of specific neuro-psychiatric conditions. Furthermore, it modulates pancreatic β-cell responsiveness and lipid metabolism leading to possible therapeutic use in diabetic and dyslipidemic patients and for limiting and even reversing atherosclerotic lesions.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; autism; bipolar disorder.; depression; maternal behavior; metabolic homeostasis; neuroinflammation; oxytocin; oxytocin receptor; pain; schizophrenia; social behavior.

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