Oxytocin: the happy hormone

Oxytocin is a nonapeptide hormone derived by enzymatic cleavage from the peptide precursor encoded by the human OXT gene. It is produced in the hypothalamus and secreted into the bloodstream by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, both of which are located at the base of the brain. When neurons in the hypothalamus are excited, their electrical activity helps to release oxytocin into the blood, thereby controlling endocrine events.

In the last decade, an increasing number of studies on the molecular, physiological, and behavioral significance of Oxytocin have shed light on the roles of this peptide. For instance, Oxytocin is known for its role as a chemical messenger in social bonding and it is considered one of three so-called “happy hormones”, together with dopamine and serotonin. Moreover, it acts on organs in the body such as breast and uterus, controlling key processes of the reproductive system, including childbirth and breastfeeding. Specifically, it was the first peptide hormone to be recognized for playing an important role in stimulating uterine contractions during parturition, helping to shrink the uterus after delivery, and stimulating milk ejection during lactation.

Immunohistochemical analysis with anti-Oxytocin antibody is used for studying the location and distribution of Oxytocin in tissue sections. The figure shows formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded human hypothalamic tissue using guinea pig anti-Oxytocin antibody (product T-5021, (1:200) dilution, Hematoxylin counterstaining) giving a strong cytoplasmatic positivity in neuronal cells (in red).


The section was treated with Proteinase K for antigen retrieval and blocked with goat serum. Incubation with primary antibody was done for 1 hour at room temperature, PBS instead of primary antibody was used as negative control. A horseradish peroxidase-conjugated goat anti-guinea pig antibody was used as secondary antibody and developed with AEC as substrate. Copyright © BMA Biomedicals / S. Accossato

The latest research has demonstrated that, when Oxytocin is released in the brain, stress responses, including anxiety, seem to be reduced. These effects have been seen in a number of species and have led the hormone to be considered as an important component of a complex neurochemical system with impact in emotional, cognitive, and social behaviors. Scientists have proposed that it might help improve interpersonal and individual wellbeing. Therefore, prescribed Oxytocin as medical treatment may benefit people with social phobia, autism, and postpartum depression.


Available from BMA Biomedicals:

S-1355: Oxytocin ELISA Kit, extraction-free for serum and plasma samples

T-4082: Rabbit anti Oxytocin, diluted antiserum

T-4083: Rabbit anti Oxytocin, purified IgG

T-4084: Rabbit anti Oxytocin, neat antiserum

T-5021: Guinea pig anti Oxytocin, neat antiserum


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Author: Dr. Sonia Accossato

Copyright © BMA Biomedicals 2021