New role of Oxytocin – hormone involved in childbirth and bonding

Researchers have found a new role of “Oxytocin” while working on one of the brain’s areas, in which biochemical messages are transferred from brain cells to the blood stream and from there to the body. Oxytocin is a hormone involved in childbirth, breastfeeding, mate-bonding and mother child bonding.

Three dimensional structure of the neurohypophysis
Three dimensional structure of the neurohypophysis

This research has been done by Dr. Gil Levkowitz of the Weizmann Institute and collaborators and published in the recent journal of Developmental Cell.

The area of study, known as “neurohypophysis”, is located at the base of the brain and works as an interface between the nerve fibers and blood vessels. Here, the hormones are released from the neurons to the blood vessels regulating some of the most important body’s processes like balance of fluids and uterine contraction in childbirth.

Scientists worked on the embryos of zebrafish with the help of new genetic tools that helped them to work on three dimensional arrangement of this area of the brain. They found that Oxytocin also works in maintaining the formation of new blood vessels.

Levkowitz said, “The messenger helps to build the road for transmitting its own future messages.”

According to researchers, this research can open new ways of research on the regenerating ability of some parts of the brain.


Gutnick, A. et. al. (2011). The Hypothalamic Neuropeptide Oxytocin Is Required for Formation of the Neurovascular Interface of the Pituitary. Developmental Cell, 21(4), 642-654.

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