The Role of Oxytocin in Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Pp. 107-133 (27)
Donatella Marazziti, Valentina Falaschi, Stefano Baroni, Mario Catena Dell’Osso and Liliana Dell’Osso
Oxytocin (OT) is a neurohypophysial hormone synthesized in the
paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus. Although OT-like
substances have been identified in all vertebrates, OT has been found only in mammals
where it plays a major role in the onset and maintaining of behaviors which are typical
of these animals, such as labour and lactation. Several data have suggested the
involvement of OT in the formation of infant attachment, maternal behavior, pair
bonding and, more generally, in linking social signals with cognition, behaviors and
The aim of this paper was to review critically the role of OT in the regulation of
different physiological functions and complex behaviors, as well as its possible
involvement in the pathophysiology of some neuropsychiatric disorders. MEDLINE and
PubMed (1972-2014) databases were searched for English language articles by using
the following keywords: oxytocin, physiology, cognitive functions, attachment,
psychopathology, psychiatric disorders. Papers were examined that addressed the
following aspects of the OT system: synthesis and localization, receptors, physiology.
In addition, latest findings showing abnormalities of OT and OT system in several
neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating
disorders, addiction, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and Prader-Willy
syndrome, will be also discussed together with the possible clinical use of OT or its
analogues and/or antagonists.
Addiction, anxiety, attachment, autism, depression, eating disorders,
lactation and parturition, neuropeptides, neuropsychiatric disorders, obsessivecompulsive
disorder, oxytocin, physiology, post-traumatic stress disorder,
receptors, schizophrenia, sexual behavior, social behaviors, stress-related
behavior, synthesis, vasopressin.
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Via Roma, 67 56100 Pisa, Italy.