Encyclopedia of Sexuality and Gender

Living Edition
| Editors: Amy D. Lykins

Oxytocin

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59531-3_1-1
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Definition

Oxytocin is a nonapeptide hormone and neurotransmitter involved in numerous sexual, reproductive, affiliative, and prosocial features in men and women.

Introduction

Sources and Secretion

Oxytocin, the principle uterine-contracting and milk-ejecting hormone of the posterior pituitary, was discovered by Henry Dale in 1906 and was named in 1920 (oxy = quick, tocin = birth). It is a nonapeptide and was the first polypeptide hormone to be sequenced and synthesized in biologically active form by Du Vigneaud et al. 1954, which won him the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1955. It is now known that it has a wide spectrum of actions acting not only at the peripheral organ level but centrally as a neuromodulator/neurotransmitter.

Central Actions

Centrally, oxytocin is made in the body of the neurosecretory cells of the hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei and is released into the blood stream from the ends of their axons in the posterior pituitary. It is also released...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent Research WorkerSheffieldUK