Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: social neuropeptides for translational medicine

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011 Aug 19;12(9):524-38. doi: 10.1038/nrn3044.


The neuropeptides oxytocin (OXT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) are evolutionarily highly conserved mediators in the regulation of complex social cognition and behaviour. Recent studies have investigated the effects of OXT and AVP on human social interaction, the genetic mechanisms of inter-individual variation in social neuropeptide signalling and the actions of OXT and AVP in the human brain as revealed by neuroimaging. These data have advanced our understanding of the mechanisms by which these neuropeptides contribute to human social behaviour. OXT and AVP are emerging as targets for novel treatment approaches--particularly in synergistic combination with psychotherapy--for mental disorders characterized by social dysfunction, such as autism, social anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Social Behavior
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / trends*
  • Vasopressins / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptides
  • Vasopressins
  • Oxytocin