Scientific article

Ocytocine : une nouvelle cible de neuroprotection ?

Published inBiologie aujourd'hui, vol. 216, no. 3-4, p. 145-153
Publication date2022
First online date2023-02-06

Every year, 30 million infants worldwide are delivered after intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) and 15 million are born preterm. These two conditions are the leading causes of ante-/perinatal stress and brain injury responsible for neurocognitive and behavioral disorders affecting more than 9 million children each year. Most pharmacological candidates to prevent perinatal brain damage have failed to demonstrate substantial benefits. In contrast, environment enrichment based on developmental care, skin-to-skin contact and vocal/music exposure appear to exert positive effects on brain structure and function. However, mechanisms underlying these effects remain unknown. There is strong evidence that an adverse environment during pregnancy and the neonatal period can influence hormonal responses of the newborn with long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences in infancy and adulthood. In particular, excessive cortisol release in response to perinatal stress associated with prematurity or IUGR is recognized to induce brain-programming effects and neuroinflammation, a key predictor of subsequent neurological impairments. These deleterious effects are known to be balanced by oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide released by the hypothalamus, which plays a role during the perinatal period and in social behavior. In addition, preclinical studies suggest that OT is able to regulate the central inflammatory response to injury in the adult brain. Using a rodent model of IUGR associated with developing white matter damage, we recently reported that carbetocin, a brain permeable OT receptor (OTR) agonist, induced a significant reduction of activated microglia, the primary immune cells of the brain. Moreover, this reduced microglia reactivity was associated with long-term neuroprotection. These findings make OT a promising candidate for neonatal neuroprotection through neuroinflammation regulation. However, the mechanisms linking endogenous OT and central inflammation response to injury have not yet been established. Further studies are needed to assess the protective role of OT in the developing brain through modulation of microglial activation, a key feature of brain injury observed in infants born preterm or growth-restricted. They are expected to have several impacts in the near future not only for improving knowledge of microglial cell physiology and reactivity during brain development, but also to design clinical trials testing interventions associated with endogenous OT release as a relevant strategy to alleviate neuroinflammation in neonates.

  • Brain lesions
  • Lésions cérébrales
  • Microglia
  • Microglie
  • Neuroprotection
  • Nouveau-né prématuré
  • Ocytocine
  • Oxytocin
  • Preterm infants
  • Pregnancy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Oxytocin / physiology
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Brain
  • Brain Injuries
Citation (ISO format)
BAUD, Olivier et al. Ocytocine : une nouvelle cible de neuroprotection ? In: Biologie aujourd’hui, 2022, vol. 216, n° 3-4, p. 145–153. doi: 10.1051/jbio/2022012
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2105-0678

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