Role of oxytocin in the control of stress and food intake

J Neuroendocrinol. 2019 Mar;31(3):e12700. doi: 10.1111/jne.12700. Epub 2019 Mar 19.


Oxytocin neurones in the hypothalamus are activated by stressful stimuli and food intake. The oxytocin receptor is located in various brain regions, including the sensory information-processing cerebral cortex; the cognitive information-processing prefrontal cortex; reward-related regions such as the ventral tegmental areas, nucleus accumbens and raphe nucleus; stress-related areas such as the amygdala, hippocampus, ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray; homeostasis-controlling hypothalamus; and the dorsal motor complex controlling intestinal functions. Oxytocin affects behavioural and neuroendocrine stress responses and terminates food intake by acting on the metabolic or nutritional homeostasis system, modulating emotional processing, reducing reward values of food intake, and facilitating sensory and cognitive processing via multiple brain regions. Oxytocin also plays a role in interactive actions between stress and food intake and contributes to adaptive active coping behaviours.

Keywords: active stress coping; food intake; oxytocin; stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Social Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Oxytocin