Vasopressin and oxytocin: hypothalamic modulators of the stress response: a review

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1986;11(2):131-9. doi: 10.1016/0306-4530(86)90048-x.


ACTH secretion is primarily controlled by hypothalamic secretion of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) into pituitary portal blood. However arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT) can modulate the actions of CRF and at times may be important mediators of stress-induced ACTH secretion. The relative contributions of CRF, AVP, and OT to the control of ACTH secretion vary with different types of stress. In general, AVP stimulates ACTH secretion in all species studied. OT also stimulates ACTH release in rats but is inhibitory in primates. The involvement of AVP and OT in the control of ACTH secretion may have important implications for physiological and pathological conditions associated with activation of the hypothalamo--hypophysial--adrenal cortical axis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / pharmacology
  • Arginine Vasopressin / physiology*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology


  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Oxytocin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone