Maternal behavior: activation of the central oxytocin
receptor system in parturient rats?

Lin SH, Kiyohara T, Sun B.
Neuroreport. 2003 Aug 6;14(11):1439-44


SUMMARY: Parturition plays a critical role in the full expression of maternal behavior in postpartum females, yet the precise mechanism remains unclear. Here we examined the role of parturition in the activation of Fos and FosB in the central oxytocin receptor (OTR) system in rats. Although expression of FosB, not Fos, was seen in the piriform cortex (Pir) and caudate putamen of virgin and pregnant females, activation of Fos and FosB with extensive co-localization was found in the medial preoptic area, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and Pir of parturient brain. This parturition induced activation of Fos and FosB was identified in the central OTR-expressing cells as well as in oxytocinergic neurons. Our data provide direct evidence, for the first time, that parturition activates Fos and FosB in the central OTR system. We propose that Fos and FosB may have comparable functions on initiating maternal behavior at parturition.
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