The impact of early life stress on the central oxytocin system and susceptibility for drug addiction: applicability of oxytocin as a pharmacotherapy

Sarah J. Baracz*, Nicholas A. Everett, Jennifer L. Cornish

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Early life trauma is strongly associated with an increased vulnerability to abuse illicit drugs and the impairment of neural development. This includes alterations to the development of the oxytocin system, which plays a pivotal role in the regulation of social behaviours and emotion. Dysregulation of this important system also contributes to increased susceptibility to develop drug addiction. In this review, we provide an overview of the animal models of early life stress that are widely used, and discuss the impact that early life stress has on drug-taking behaviour in adolescence and adulthood in both sexes. We link this to the changes that early life stress has on the endogenous oxytocin system, and how exogenously administered oxytocin may help to re-establish functioning of the system, and in turn, reduce drug-taking behaviour.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-132
    Number of pages19
    JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
    Volume110
    Early online date30 Aug 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

    Keywords

    • addiction
    • early life stress
    • mental illness
    • oxytocin
    • sex differences
    • substance abuse

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