Navigation Links
Does a peptide affect the heart's response to social isolation?

A team of researchers investigating the effects of oxytocin, a peptide produced by the brain that regulates social behavior, has found that it can prevent detrimental cardiac responses in adult female animals exposed to social isolation. The findings may provide further insight into how these mechanisms affect humans.

The study was conducted by Angela J. Grippo, C. Sue Carter and Stephen W. Porges, all with the Department of Psychiatry and Brain-Body Center at University of Illinois at Chicago and is titled Chronic Oxytocin Treatment Mediates Heart Rate Responses Following Social Isolation. Dr. Grippo is presenting the team’s findings at the 120th annual meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS;, being held as part of the Experimental Biology (EB ?7) conference. More than 12,000 scientific researchers will attend the gathering being held April 28-May 2, 2007 at the Washington, DC Convention Center.


The social environment plays an important role in regulating both behavior and cardiovascular function in humans. Negative social interactions, such as loneliness or social isolation, may increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety as well as heart disease.

Prairie voles (ochrogaster) are small rodents that demonstrate features of social interactions similar to humans and therefore provide a useful animal model for investigating how the social environment influences behavior and cardiac function. Earlier studies by this research team showed that when prairie voles were isolated from their families, they displayed behaviors similar to depression and cardiovascular changes indicating a possible increased risk of heart disease (including elevated resting heart rate, reduced heart rate variability, and reduced parasympathetic regulation of the heart).

This study examines whether oxytocin plays a role in the heart’s detrimental response s to social isolation.

The Study: Summary of Methodology

Adult female prairie voles were placed under anesthesia and implanted with wireless, radio frequency transmitters. The animals were subsequently exposed to either social isolation or pairing with a female sibling (control conditions) for four weeks. They were treated with oxytocin or saline (control solution) daily for 14 days during the third and fourth week of the four-week isolation period.

Electrocardiographic parameters (heart rate and heart rhythms) were recorded using the radio frequency transmitter. Following the period of isolation or pairing, all animals were exposed to a mild social stressor (a five minute social interaction test with an unfamiliar animal).


The researchers found that:

  • the animals exposed to isolation had an increase in heart rate and a reduction in heart rate variability. The administration of oxytocin significantly improved both heart rate and heart rate variability;

  • for the animals exposed to isolation, oxytocin significantly reduced the heart rate response following the five-minute resident intruder social interaction test;

  • for the isolated animals, oxytocin significantly improved parasympathetic regulation of the heart; and

  • for the paired prairie voles (control group) oxytocin did not alter the cardiac responses.


These findings suggest that oxytocin can prevent damaging cardiac changes in adult female prairie voles exposed to social isolation. While there are limitations to the study, including the lack of spontaneous puberty and estrous cycles in female prairie voles (unlike their human counterpart), the results serve as a springboard into better understanding the mechanisms that underlie the relations between social behavior and cardiac function in humans.

Source:American Physiological Society

Related biology news :

1. Product improves peptide identification for proteomics research
2. Discovery clarifies role of peptide in biological clock
3. Frog peptides block HIV in lab study
4. New peptide antibiotic isolated from American oyster
5. Defense peptide found in primates may block some human HIV transmissions
6. Scientists identify 36 genes, 100 neuropeptides in honey bee brains
7. Synthetic peptide targets latent papilloma virus infections
8. UCLA AIDS Institute researchers find a peptide that encourages HIV infection
9. Cytoplasm affects the number of vertebrae in carp-goldfish clones
10. Clam embryo study shows pollutant mixture adversely affects nerve cell development
11. A new study examines how shared pathogens affect host populations

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/27/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... human interface solutions, today announced that Google has adopted ... family of touch controller solutions to power its newest ... Nexus 6P by Huawei. --> ... ecosystem partners like Google to provide strategic collaboration in ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID Inc., a company ... mobile and PC devices, announced its ActiveIRIS® technology powers ... NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, INC in ... the second smartphone to include iris recognition technology, after ... NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s first smartphone to ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... (NASDAQ: AWRE ), a leading supplier of biometrics software and ... 30, 2015.  --> --> ... decrease of 33% compared to $6.0 million in the same quarter ... $2.2 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, which compared to $2.6 ... year ago.  --> --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering ... premier annual events for pharmaceutical manufacturing: 2015 Annual Meeting. The conference took place ... the largest number of attendees in more than a decade. , “The ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... N.C. , Nov. 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a ... North Carolina , today announced that the company has set ... represented a 391% quarter on quarter growth posted for Q3 of ... and Mexico , with the establishment ... in December 2015. --> United Kingdom ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and ... to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their ... votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- SHPG ) announced today that Jeff Poulton ... th Annual Healthcare Conference in New York City ... EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ) announced today ... the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ...
Breaking Biology Technology: