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Intranasal oxytocin administration improves depression-like behaviors in adult rats that experienced neonatal maternal deprivation

Ji, Haoyi; Su, Wenlong; Zhou, Ruchen; Feng, Jing; Lin, Yue; Zhang, Yumin; Wang, Xinmei; Chen, Xiaoyang; Li, Jing

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000248

Oxytocin (OT), a hypothalamic neuropeptide, has been implicated in the regulation of social behaviors in rodents and humans. This study assessed the effects of intranasal administration of OT on depressive-like behaviors and hippocampal neurogenesis in adult rats following neonatal maternal deprivation (NMD). Here, we show that NMD resulted in significant depression-like behaviors, as indicated by decreases in physical activity and emotional reactivity in a novel environment, in 2-month-old animals. Notably, the OT levels in the plasma, hypothalamus, and hippocampus were decreased in these animals. Intranasal administration of OT reduced the depressive-like behaviors in NMD rats and rescued hippocampal long-term plasticity impaired by NMD stress in rats by promoting hippocampal neurogenesis. These results indicate that OT alleviates the depressive-like behaviors in NMD adult rats, probably mediated by improving adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

aShandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Mental Disorders, Department of Physiology

bDepartment of Medical Ethics, Shandong University School of Medicine, Jinan

cDepartment of Pathology, Central Hospital of Zibo, Zibo, Shandong, China

* Haoyi Ji and Wenlong Su contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Correspondence to Jing Li, PhD, Department of Pathology, Central Hospital of Zibo, Zibo 255000, China E-mail:

Received January 28, 2016

Accepted June 28, 2016

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