Oxytocin improves long-lasting spatial memory during motherhood through MAP kinase cascade

Kazuhito Tomizawa, Norichika Iga, Yun Fei Lu, Akiyoshi Moriwaki, Masayuki Matsushita, Sheng Tian Li, Osamu Miyamoto, Toshifumi Itano, Hideki Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Citations (Scopus)


Oxytocin is an essential hormone for mammalian labor and lactation. Here, we show a new function of oxytocin in causing plastic changes in hippocampal synapses during motherhood. In oxytocin-perfused hippocampal slices, one-train tetanus stimulation induced long-lasting, long-term potentiation (L-LTP) and phosphorylation of cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB), and MAP kinase inhibitors blocked these inductions. An increase in CREB phosphorylation and L-LTP induced by one-train tetanus were observed in the multiparous mouse hippocampus without oxytocin application. Furthermore, intracerebroventricular injection of oxytocin in virgin mice improved long-term spatial learning in vivo, whereas an injection of oxytocin antagonist in multiparous mice significantly inhibited the improved spatial memory, L-LTP and CREB phosphorylation. These findings indicate that oxytocin is critically involved in improving hippocampus-dependent learning and memory during motherhood in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-390
Number of pages7
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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