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      Sex, love and oxytocin: Two metaphors and a molecule

      Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
      Elsevier BV

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          Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span

          Although intermittent increases in inflammation are critical for survival during physical injury and infection, recent research has revealed that certain social, environmental and lifestyle factors can promote systemic chronic inflammation (SCI) that can, in turn, lead to several diseases that collectively represent the leading causes of disability and mortality worldwide, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. In the present Perspective we describe the multi-level mechanisms underlying SCI and several risk factors that promote this health-damaging phenotype, including infections, physical inactivity, poor diet, environmental and industrial toxicants and psychological stress. Furthermore, we suggest potential strategies for advancing the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of SCI.
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            Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love.

            The purpose of this paper is to review existing behavioral and neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Both love and social attachments function to facilitate reproduction, provide a sense of safety, and reduce anxiety or stress. Because social attachment is an essential component of love, understanding attachment formation is an important step toward identifying the neurobiological substrates of love. Studies of pair bonding in monogamous rodents, such as prairie voles, and maternal attachment in precocial ungulates offer the most accessible animal models for the study of mechanisms underlying selective social attachments and the propensity to develop social bonds. Parental behavior and sexual behavior, even in the absence of selective social behaviors, are associated with the concept of love; the analysis of reproductive behaviors, which is far more extensive than our understanding of social attachment, also suggests neuroendocrine substrates for love. A review of these literatures reveals a recurrent association between high levels of activity in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and the subsequent expression of social behaviors and attachments. Positive social behaviors, including social bonds, may reduce HPA axis activity, while in some cases negative social interactions can have the opposite effect. Central neuropeptides, and especially oxytocin and vasopressin have been implicated both in social bonding and in the central control of the HPA axis. In prairie voles, which show clear evidence of pair bonds, oxytocin is capable of increasing positive social behaviors and both oxytocin and social interactions reduce activity in the HPA axis. Social interactions and attachment involve endocrine systems capable of decreasing HPA reactivity and modulating the autonomic nervous system, perhaps accounting for health benefits that are attributed to loving relationships.
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              The Oxytocin Receptor: From Intracellular Signaling to Behavior.

              The many facets of the oxytocin (OXT) system of the brain and periphery elicited nearly 25,000 publications since 1930 (see FIGURE 1 , as listed in PubMed), which revealed central roles for OXT and its receptor (OXTR) in reproduction, and social and emotional behaviors in animal and human studies focusing on mental and physical health and disease. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms of OXT expression and release, expression and binding of the OXTR in brain and periphery, OXTR-coupled signaling cascades, and their involvement in behavioral outcomes to assemble a comprehensive picture of the central and peripheral OXT system. Traditionally known for its role in milk let-down and uterine contraction during labor, OXT also has implications in physiological, and also behavioral, aspects of reproduction, such as sexual and maternal behaviors and pair bonding, but also anxiety, trust, sociability, food intake, or even drug abuse. The many facets of OXT are, on a molecular basis, brought about by a single receptor. The OXTR, a 7-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptor capable of binding to either Gαi or Gαq proteins, activates a set of signaling cascades, such as the MAPK, PKC, PLC, or CaMK pathways, which converge on transcription factors like CREB or MEF-2. The cellular response to OXT includes regulation of neurite outgrowth, cellular viability, and increased survival. OXTergic projections in the brain represent anxiety and stress-regulating circuits connecting the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or the medial prefrontal cortex. Which OXT-induced patterns finally alter the behavior of an animal or a human being is still poorly understood, and studying those OXTR-coupled signaling cascades is one initial step toward a better understanding of the molecular background of those behavioral effects.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
                Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
                Elsevier BV
                01497634
                December 2022
                December 2022
                : 143
                : 104948
                Article
                10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104948
                36347382
                8204bd19-d3d3-43ea-aec1-4825266c34ea
                © 2022

                https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

                http://www.elsevier.com/open-access/userlicense/1.0/

                https://doi.org/10.15223/policy-017

                https://doi.org/10.15223/policy-037

                https://doi.org/10.15223/policy-012

                https://doi.org/10.15223/policy-029

                https://doi.org/10.15223/policy-004

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