Teruyama Lab Receives NIH/NIMH Award
The Teruyama lab has been awarded a new NIH/NIMH grant to study the sexually dimorphic oxytocin receptor-expressing neurons in the brain. Oxytocin is released in the brain and modulates many aspects of social behaviors, including social recognition, maternal behavior and pair bonding. Oxytocin influences social behaviors by binding to the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) located in various parts of the brain.
In recent years, the oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as a potential pharmacological target for the treatment of many psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, and postpartum depression. Despite the importance, the cellular characterization, connectivity, and regulation of OXTR expressing neurons in the brain is still largely unknown. We recently discovered a group of OXTR neurons that is exclusively present in females, but not in males. This funding allows us to investigate the behavioral significance and regulatory mechanisms of these OXTR neurons.
We commonly assume that sex differences in behavior, such as maternal behavior, arise from sexual dimorphism in the underlying neural circuit; but it has rarely been demonstrated. Our study may be able to elucidate the sex-specific neural circuitry system that regulates sex-specific social behaviors. The findings from this project will provide useful insight into sex-specific pharmacological interventions that may likely treat sex typical psychiatric disorders, such as postpartum depression.
For more on this award: 3. https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/pa-18-350.html
For more on the Teruyama Lab: https://sites01.lsu.edu/faculty/rteruyama/home/