Scientists find the key answer for maternal instinct

Team of researchers at Louisiana State University have taken particular interest in the study of the love hormone- Oxytocin. Presently, tremendous research is carried out in studying the Oxytocin system of the brain. According to experts, the oxytocin is the ultimate solution to the treatment of several health disorders such as anxiety, postpartum depression, and autism spectrum disorders.

According to researchers at LSU, a group of cells were discovered to be activated by oxytocin in one of the areas of the female mouse brain, a process which did not take place in the same area in male mouse brains. These oxytocin receptor cells available in the brain area were known to be involved in instigating maternal behavior. Researchers also found that the expression of these oxytocin receptors in the cells were only present with estrogen, this hence also implied that it was responsible for inducing maternal behavior. Moreover, the study also confirmed a relationship between altered expression of oxytocin receptors and postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is known to have negative effects on a child’s development and it also led to poor maternal health. Children of depressed mothers were more prone to several medical problems, including cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems. Since 10 to 20 percent of women undergo postpartum depression after childbirth, scientists at LSU directed efforts towards developing new treatments and drug for postpartum depression, focusing on oxytocin receptor cells.

“I think our discovery could be universal to all mammals that exhibit maternal behavior, including humans,” commented Ryoichi Teruyama, associate professor from the LSU Department of Biological Sciences.

According to Teruyama, although many researchers have conducted study in oxytocin system in females versus males, this was the first time, scientists had found a successful evidence. The study spearheaded by the LSU Department of Biological Sciences was published in the scientific journal  PLOS ONE.