Commentary| Volume 72, ISSUE 3, P171-172, August 01, 2012

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Is It in Our Genes: Oxytocin, Dopamine, Stress, and Sex

  • Anissa Abi-Dargham
    Address correspondence to Anissa Abi-Dargham, M.D., New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 31, New York, New York 10032
    Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
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      Love et al. (
      • Love T.M.
      • Enoch M.-A.
      • Hodgkinson C.A.
      • Peciña M.
      • Mickey B.
      • Koeppe R.A.
      • et al.
      Oxytocin gene polymorphisms influence human dopaminergic function in a sex-dependent manner.
      ) describe in this issue of Biological Psychiatry a study combining imaging and genetics to examine the effect of genetic variations in the oxytocin (OT) gene on stress induced dopamine (DA) release measured via displacement of a D2/3 positron emission tomography radiotracer following a painful stimulus. They find a significant gene by sex interaction for a cluster of voxels in the right medial caudate, in which female carriers of the C allele of rs4813625 display the largest reduction in radiotracer binding indicative of greater dopamine release. Similar effects are found for the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) that are in linkage disequilibrium but not for the one that is unlinked. No genotype effects on dopamine release were observed for males. Furthermore, female C carriers of rs4813625 had higher state-trait anxiety ratings measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and lower scores on an emotional well-being scale but did not experience more pain, as measured with the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Higher DA release in turn correlated significantly with lower emotional well-being ratings in females and higher trait anxiety in males and at trend level in females.
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        • Love T.M.
        • Enoch M.-A.
        • Hodgkinson C.A.
        • Peciña M.
        • Mickey B.
        • Koeppe R.A.
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        Oxytocin gene polymorphisms influence human dopaminergic function in a sex-dependent manner.
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      Linked Article

      • Oxytocin Gene Polymorphisms Influence Human Dopaminergic Function in a Sex-Dependent Manner
        Biological PsychiatryVol. 72Issue 3
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          Oxytocin, classically involved in social and reproductive activities, is increasingly recognized as an antinociceptive and anxiolytic agent, effects which may be mediated via oxytocin's interactions with the dopamine system. Thus, genetic variation within the oxytocin gene (OXT) is likely to explain variability in dopamine-related stress responses. As such, we examined how OXT variation is associated with stress-induced dopaminergic neurotransmission in a healthy human sample.
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