The role of oxytocin in neuropsychiatric disorders: Concepts and mechanisms

Raz Levin, Shany Edelman, Idan Shalev, Richard P. Ebstein, Uriel Heresco-Levy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


The role of oxytocin in the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders has recently received increased attention. Although oxytocin has an established role as a circulating hormone involved in parturition and lactation, it also acts as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. Oxytocin receptors are found in several brain areas such as amygdala, nucleus accumbens and hippocampus, which have been heavily implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders. Converging lines of evidences suggest that oxytocin is a key mediator of complex emotional and social behaviors, including attachment, social recognition, and aggression. Moreover, oxytocin alleviates anxiety and impacts on fear conditioning and extinction and on social reward systems. Furthermore, recent data suggest that oxytocin has neuroprotective effects by increasing the resistance of fetal neurons to insults during delivery. Due to its influence upon a wide range of behaviors and its antistress neuroprotective properties the role of oxytocin-related dysfunctions and therapeutics are presently assessed in major neuropsychiatric disorders. In this chapter we will review and summarize some of the mechanisms and concepts relevant to the role of oxytocin in the pathophysiology and therapeutics of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBrain Protection in Schizophrenia, Mood and Cognitive Disorders
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9789048185535
ISBN (Print)9789048185528
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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