Oxytocin (OXT) is hypothalamic neuropeptide synthetized in the brain by magnocellular and parvo cellular neurons of the paraventricular (PVN), supraoptic (SON) and accessory nuclei (AN) of the hypothalamus. OXT acts in the central and peripheral nervous systems via G-protein-coupled receptors. The classical physiological functions of OXT are uterine contractions, the milk ejection reflex during lactation, penile erection and sexual arousal, but recent studies have demonstrated that OXT may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and regulate immune and anti-inflammatory responses. In the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative diseases, microglia are present in an active form and release high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that are implicated in the process of neural injury. A promising treatment for neurodegenerative diseases involves new therapeutic approaches targeting activated microglia. Recent studies have reported that OXT exerts neuroprotective effects through the inhibition of production of pro-inflammatory mediators, and in the development of correct neural circuitry. The focus of this review is to attribute a new important role of OXT in neuroprotection through the microglia–OXT interaction of immature and adult brains. In addition, we analyzed the strategies that could enhance the delivery of OXT in the brain and amplify its positive effects.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited