Quo vadis neurohypophysial hormone research?

A J Douglas, M Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Here we highlight just a few of the outstanding questions in the field of neurohypophysial hormones that we envisage will be addressed successfully in the new millennium. To begin, we focus on the regulation of receptors. Despite intensive investigation with new drugs, molecular modelling and transgenic models, the determinants of receptor selectivity remain elusive; there may even be more vasopressin or oxytocin receptor subtypes to be discovered. We discuss the controversy over the interesting studies that indicate modulation of oxytocin receptor-binding by steroids. Oxytocin and vasopressin release and action in the brain are discussed from several aspects. Dendritically released oxytocin acting locally is important for the milk ejection reflex, and similarly released vasopressin is important in regulating patterning of vasopressin neurone activity. Such dendritically released oxytocin and vasopressin is likely to be important in paracrine modulation of neural circuitry involved in neuroendocrine control, and for a range of behaviours. Is it possible that the whole range of behaviours that comprise 'social' (or 'anti-social') or 'maternal' behaviour can be engineered by modifying the expression of just these one or two peptides and their receptors? However, whether gene expression and knockout approaches will answer all the open questions about the real functions of oxytocin and vasopressin remains to be shown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267S-272S
JournalExperimental physiology
Volume85 Spec No
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neurosciences
  • Oxytocin
  • Pituitary Gland, Posterior
  • Vasopressins

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