Oxytocin Produced in the BNST to Augment Stress-induced Social Anxiety Behaviors, Study Suggests

Feb, 2021 - By SMI

Oxytocin Produced in the BNST to Augment Stress-induced Social Anxiety Behaviors, Study Suggests

Oxytocin, which is popularly known as ‘love hormone’ is a hormone that regulates prosocial behavior including as empathy, trust, and bonding. Moreover, it is also been observed that oxytocin also promotes antisocial behaviors and emotions such as anxiety, envy, and reduced cooperation and there is no such clear information about such opposite roles of oxytocin, however a new study led by the researchers of UC Davis highlights on how this may work.

Researchers informed that majority of the oxytocin is generated in hypothalamus area of the brain, however some oxytocin is produced in other area of the brain area called as bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST. Furthermore, BNST play an important role in the stress response, and might be responsible for psychiatric disorders including addiction, anxiety, and depression.

Natalia Duque-Wilckens, senior author, stated, “Before this study, we knew that stress increased the activity of the oxytocin-producing neurons located in the BNST, but we didn't know if they could affect behavior. Our experiments show that production of oxytocin in the BNST is necessary for social anxiety behaviors in California mice.”

Researchers demonstrated this by using a tool known as morpholino-oligos, when injected directly into the BNST, it prevents oxytocin from being produced in this area. Furthermore, researchers highlighted that oxytocin-producing neurons in the BNST are linked to brain regions responsible for regulating anxiety-related behavior. Researchers concluded that the findings explain why oxytocin sometimes augments anxiety in humans and also suggested that in some of the cases, a drug blocking the actions of oxytocin can aid in reducing anxiety.

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