Female oxytocin-deficient mice
display enhanced anxiety-related behavior

by
Mantella RC, Vollmer RR, Li X, Amico JA.
Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences
(R.C.M., R.R.V., X.L., J.A.A.)
and Medicine (J.A.A.), University of Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261.
Endocrinology 2003 Jun;144(6):2291-6


ABSTRACT

Previous studies have suggested that oxytocin (OT) may be anxiolytic in female laboratory rats and mice. The elevated plus-maze was used to compare anxiety-related behaviors of OT-deficient (OT-/-) and wild-type (OT+/+) mice. Female OT-/- mice displayed increased anxiety-related behavior compared with OT+/+ mice. The percentage of entries (P < 0.0002) and time spent (P < 0.003) in the open arms was less in female OT-/- than OT+/+ mice. Administration of synthetic OT, 2 ng by intracerebroventricular (icv) injection to female OT-/- mice, increased the percentage of entries (P < 0.003) and time spent (P < 0.004) in the open arms compared with artificial cerebrospinal fluid female OT-/- mice. Administration of an OT receptor antagonist (Atosiban, d[Dtyr(Et)(2), Thr(4)]ornithine vasotocin) 100 ng icv, to female OT+/+ mice increased anxiety-related behavior by decreasing the percentage of entries (P < 0.01) and time spent (P < 0.04) in the open arms compared with artificial cerebrospinal fluid-treated controls. Central infusion of an OT receptor antagonist, 100 ng icv, before administration of synthetic OT, 2 ng icv, in female OT-/- mice blocked the anxiolytic affect of OT. In contrast, male OT-/- mice displayed decreased anxiety-related behavior compared with male OT+/+ mice. The percentage of entries (P < 0.007) and time spent (P < 0.004) in the open arms was greater in male OT-/- vs. OT+/+ mice. Our findings indicate that OT pathways play a role in modulating anxiety in female mice of the C57BL/6 background, and the effect is mediated by the OT receptor.
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Oxytocin as an anxiolytic
The oxytocin receptor system
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Oxytocin, addiction and the science of love


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