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Sex and species differences in plasma oxytocin using an enzyme immunoassay

The neuropeptide hormone oxytocin (OT) is released peripherally and centrally and has been implicated in both physiology and behavior, especially sociosexual behaviors. Knowledge of OT levels in blood or other sources would be useful but these are rarely reported. Radioimmunoassay following extraction is the most commonly used method for measuring OT but is not ideal for use in small mammals in which blood volumes and concentrations of OT are low. Here we report a chemical and biological validation for a commercially available enzyme immunoassay for OT in unextracted plasma. In addition, comparisons of OT were made across species to allow comparison of the monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster (Wagner, 1842)) to the polygynous Sprague Dawley rat. These species were chosen because OT plays a role in the formation of social bonds and we predicted that the highly social prairie vole would have higher plasma OT than the less social rat. Results of this comparison confirmed our hypothesis. Further, OT was significantly higher in females than in males in both species. Our results indicate that this enzyme immunoassay can be used to assay plasma OT in rodents and that the predicted correlations exist between plasma OT and gender as well as species-typical social behavior


Kramer, KM., Cushing, BS., Carter Porges, C., Wu, J., & Ottinger, MA. (2004). Sex and species differences in plasma oxytocin using an enzyme immunoassay. Canadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne de Zoologie, 82(8), 1194-1200. https://doi.org/10.1139/Z04-098

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