Oxytocin and vasopressin: Signalling, behavioural modulation and potential therapeutic effects

Mariana Rae, Mariana Lemos Duarte, Ivone Gomes, Rosana Camarini, Lakshmi A. Devi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) are endogenous ligands for OT and AVP receptors in the brain and in the peripheral system. Several studies demonstrate that OT and AVP have opposite roles in modulating stress, anxiety and social behaviours. Interestingly, both peptides and their receptors exhibit high sequence homology which could account for the biased signalling interaction of the peptides with OT and AVP receptors. However, how and under which conditions this crosstalk occurs in vivo remains unclear. In this review we shed light on the complexity of the roles of OT and AVP, by focusing on their signalling and behavioural differences and exploring the crosstalk between the receptor systems. Moreover, we discuss the potential of OT and AVP receptors as therapeutic targets to treat human disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia and drug abuse. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on Building Bridges in Neuropharmacology. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v179.8/issuetoc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1564
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • GPCR
  • anxiety
  • crosstalk
  • oxytocin
  • social behaviour
  • substance use disorder
  • vasopressin


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