• Journal Article

Exposure to chronic isolation modulates receptors mRNAs for oxytocin and vasopressin in the hypothalamus and heart

Citation

Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Kenkel, W., Mohsenpour, S. R., Sanzenbacher, L., Saadat, H., Partoo, L., ... Carter Porges, C. (2013). Exposure to chronic isolation modulates receptors mRNAs for oxytocin and vasopressin in the hypothalamus and heart. Peptides, 43, 20-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.peptides.2013.02.007

Abstract

The goal of our study was to explore the effect of social isolation stress of varying durations on the plasma oxytocin (OT), messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) for oxytocin receptor (OTR), plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP) and mRNA for V1a receptor of AVP (V1aR) expression in the hypothalamus and heart of socially monogamous female and male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Continuous isolation for 4 weeks (chronic isolation) increased plasma OT level in females, but not in males. One hour of isolation every day for 4 weeks (repeated isolation) was followed by a significant increase in plasma AVP level. Chronic isolation, but not repeated isolation, significantly decreased OTR mRNA in the hypothalamus and heart in both sexes. Chronic isolation significantly decreased cardiac V1aR mRNA, but no effect on hypothalamic V1aR mRNA expression. We did not find a gender difference within repeated social isolation groups. The results of the present study reveal that although chronic social isolation can down-regulate gene expression for the OTR in both sexes, the release of the OT peptide was increased after chronic isolation only in females, possibly somewhat protecting females from the negative consequences of isolation. In both sexes repeated, but not chronic, isolation increased plasma AVP, which could be permissive for mobilization and thus adaptive in response to a repeated stressor. The differential effects of isolation on OT and AVP systems may help in understanding mechanisms through social interactions can be protective against emotional and cardiovascular disorders