Quantitative cellular-resolution map of the oxytocin receptor in postnatally developing mouse brains

Nat Commun. 2020 Apr 20;11(1):1885. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15659-1.


The oxytocin receptor (OTR) plays critical roles in social behavior development. Despite its significance, brain-wide quantitative understanding of OTR expression remains limited in postnatally developing brains. Here, we develop postnatal 3D template brains to register whole brain images with cellular resolution to systematically quantify OTR cell densities. We utilize fluorescent reporter mice (Otrvenus/+) and find that cortical regions show temporally and spatially heterogeneous patterns with transient postnatal OTR expression without cell death. Cortical OTR cells are largely glutamatergic neurons with the exception of cells in layer 6b. Subcortical regions show similar temporal regulation except the hypothalamus and two hypothalamic nuclei display sexually dimorphic OTR expression. Lack of OTR expression correlates with reduced dendritic spine densities in selected cortical regions of developing brains. Lastly, we create a website to visualize our high-resolution imaging data. In summary, our research provides a comprehensive resource for postnatal OTR expression in the mouse brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Receptors, Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin