RGS2 mediates the anxiolytic effect of oxytocin

Naoki Okimoto, Oliver J. Bosch, David A. Slattery, Konstanze Pflaum, Hiroaki Matsushita, Fan Yan Wei, Masayasu Ohmori, Tei Ichi Nishiki, Iori Ohmori, Yuji Hiramatsu, Hideki Matsui, Inga D. Neumann, Kazuhito Tomizawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been shown to exert multiple functions in both males and females, and to play a key role in the regulation of emotionality in the central nervous system (CNS). OT has an anxiolytic effect in the CNS of rodents and humans. However, the molecular mechanisms of this effect are unclear. Here we show that OT induced the expression of regulator of G-protein signaling 2 (RGS2), a regulatory factor for anxiety, in the central amygdala (CeA) of female mice. Bath application of OT increased RGS2 levels in slices of the amygdala of virgin mice. RGS2 levels in the CeA were higher in lactating mice than in virgin mice. In contrast, RGS2 levels in mice that had given birth did not increase when the pups were removed. Acute restraint stress for 4 h induced RGS2 expression within the CeA, and local administration of an OT receptor antagonist inhibited this expression. Behavioral experiments revealed that transient restraint stress had an anxiolytic effect in wild-type females, and RGS2 levels in the CeA correlated with the anxiolytic behavior. By contrast, in the OT receptor-deficient mice, restraint stress neither increased RGS2 levels in the CeA nor had an anxiolytic effect. These results suggest that OT displays an anxiolytic effect through the induction of RGS2 expression in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - May 9 2012


  • Amygdala
  • Anxiety
  • Female
  • Mouse
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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