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Modulating the Oxytocin System During the Perinatal Period: A New Strategy for Neuroprotection of the Immature Brain?

Front Neurol. 2018;9:229

Authors: Zinni M, Colella M, Batista Novais AR, Baud O, Mairesse J

Oxytocin is a neurohypophysal hormone known for its activity during labor and its role in lactation. However, the function of oxytocin (OTX) goes far beyond the peripheral regulation of reproduction, and the central effects of OTX have been extensively investigated, since it has been recognized to influence the learning and memory processes. OTX has also prominent effects on social behavior, anxiety, and autism. Interaction between glucocorticoids, OTX, and maternal behavior may have long-term effects on the developmental program of the developing brain subjected to adverse events during pre and perinatal periods. OTX treatment in humans improves many aspects of social cognition and behavior. Its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and inflammation appear to be of interest in neonates because these properties may confer benefits when the perinatal brain has been subjected to injury. Indeed, early life inflammation and abnormal adrenal response to stress have been associated with an abnormal white matter development. Recent investigations demonstrated that OTX is involved in the modulation of microglial reactivity in the developing brain. This review recapitulates state-of-the art data supporting the hypothesis that the OTX system could be considered as an innovative candidate for neuroprotection, especially in the immature brain.

PMID: 29706926 [PubMed]

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