Oxytocin Inhibits Corticosterone-induced Apoptosis in Primary Hippocampal Neurons

Hein Min Latt, Hiroaki Matsushita, Miku Morino, Yuuri Koga, Hiroyuki Michiue, Tei-ichi Nishiki, Kazuhito Tomizawa, Hideki Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Stress is an adaptive and coordinated response to endogenous or exogenous stressors that pose an unpleasant and aversive threat to an individual's homeostasis and wellbeing. Glucocorticoids, corticosterone (CORT) in rodents and cortisol in humans, are adrenal steroids which are released in response to stressful stimuli. Although they help individuals to cope with stress, their overexposure in animals has been implicated in hippocampal dysfunction and neuronal loss. Oxytocin (OT) plays an active role in adaptive stress-related responses and protects hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory during stress. In this study, we showed that OT protects primary mouse hippocampal neurons from CORT-induced apoptosis. OT receptors (OTR) were expressed in primary mouse hippocampal neurons and glial cells. CORT induced apoptosis in hippocampal neurons, but had no effect on apoptosis in glial cells. OT inhibited CORT-induced apoptosis in primary hippocampal neurons. OT was unable to protect primary hippocampal neurons prepared from OTR KO mice from CORT-induced apoptosis. These results indicate that OT has inhibitory effects on CORT-induced neuronal death in primary hippocampal neurons via acting on OTR. The findings suggest a therapeutic potential of OT in the treatment of stress-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - May 21 2018


  • apoptosis
  • corticosterone
  • oxytocin
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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