The role of oxytocin in the lateral hypothalamus

2019 Bridge to Success Grant for Early Career Investigators

Carrie Mahoney, PhD

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Key Project Outcomes

Neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders often show comorbid sleep disturbances and impaired social behavior.  Whether a causal relationship or a common etiology underlies these impairments remains unknown. This project used genetically targeted techniques in mice to test whether oxytocin neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus that project to the lateral hypothalamus modulate sleep and wake. We also sought to determine if this modulation influenced social interaction and social memory. Preliminary data indicates oxytocin neurons of the paraventricular nucleus influences arousal and sleep. Additional characterization of the impact this modulation of sleep and arousal is warranted. These preliminary studies are essential first steps in defining the influence oxytocin has on sleep and memory.