Oxytocin, an important neuropeptide, exerts a wide influence on the central nervous system and the peripheral tissues. In the central nervous system, the oxytocin gene expression is mainly shown to be present in neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei. Oxytocin gene also transcribes in the peripheral tissues such as uterus, placenta, and amnion. Oxytocin receptors can be founded in many tissues in humans, like the uterine, ovary, testis, kidney, and so on. And just in the same tissue, due to the variation of physiology factors, the amount of oxytocin changes a lot. Oxytocin secretion is closely linked with pregnancy advancing. During labor, the contractions of uterine smooth muscles and oxytocin secretion are inseparable. Moreover, oxytocin is also responsible for stimulating milk ejection after parturition. Oxytocin is associated with many diseases. Poor regulation of oxytocin may cause postpartum depression and infantile autism. In terms of physiology, fatal heart failure and gestational hypertension are concerned with oxytocin level. In this chapter, we will discuss the oxytocin in pregnancy as well as its clinical applications.
Part of the book: Oxytocin and Health