Oxytocin in the hypothalamus is the biological basis of social recognition, trust, love and bonding. Previously, we showed that CD38, a proliferation marker in leukaemia cells, plays an important role in the hypothalamus in the process of oxytocin release in adult mice. Disruption of Cd38 (Cd38 -/-) elicited impairment of maternal behaviour and male social recognition in adult mice, similar to the behaviour observed in Oxt and oxytocin receptor (Oxtr) gene knockout (Oxt -/- and Oxtr -/-, respectively) mice. Locomotor activity induced by separation from the dam was higher and the number of ultrasonic vocalisation calls was lower in Cd38 -/- than Cd38 +/+ pups. However, these behavioural changes were much milder than those observed in Oxt -/- and Oxtr -/- mice, indicating less impairment of social behaviour in Cd38 -/- pups. These phenotypes appeared to be caused by the high plasma oxytocin levels during development from the neonatal period to 3-week-old juvenile mice. ADP-ribosyl cyclase activity was markedly lower in the knockout mice from birth, suggesting that weaning for mice is a critical time window of plasma oxytocin differentiation. Breastfeeding was an important exogenous source of plasma oxytocin regulation before weaning as a result of the presence of oxytocin in milk and the dam's mammary glands. The dissimilarity between Cd38 -/- infant behaviour and those of Oxt -/- or Oxtr -/- mice can be explained partly by this exogenous source of oxytocin. These results suggest that secretion of oxytocin into the brain in a CD38-dependent manner may play an important role in the development of social behaviour.
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- DOI : 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.01976.x
- ISSN : 0953-8194
- eISSN : 1365-2826
- Web of Science ID : WOS:000276862100007