[Role of the neurohypophysis in psychological stress].Encephale 2001 May-Jun; 27(3):245-59E
Effects of different psychological stimuli on oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) secretion are reviewed in animals and in humans. The secretion of neuropituitary hormones is also discussed in various psychiatric diseases such an anorexia nervosa, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. AVP and OT are secreted into the hypophyseal portal circulation by neurons which project from the paraventricular nucleus to the external zone of the median eminence. AVP and OT-containing neurons in the suprachiasmatic and paraventricular nuclei project to limbic areas, including the hippocampus, the subiculum, the ventral nucleus of the amygdala and the nucleus of the diagonal band. Specific AVP receptors which are pharmacologically different from the pressor and antidiuretic AVP receptors have been found in the anterior pituitary. OT receptors have been identified in a variety of forebrain sites. The neurohypophyseal secretion is regulated by the cholinergic muscarinic, histaminergic and beta-adrenergic systems. Stress alters the secretion of one or more of the hypothalamic factors which interact at the pituitary to increase the secretion of ACTH. AVP and OT have been shown to modulate the effect of Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF) on ACTH secretion and appear to play a key role in mediating the ACTH response to stress. Although AVP is a relatively weak secretagogue for ACTH, it markedly potentiates the activity of CRF both in vitro and in vivo. The role of OT is more complex. In vitro, OT stimulates ACTH release at high doses whereas in human it inhibits ACTH secretion at low doses. The type of stressor appear to determine the relative importance of these secretatogues in ACTH response. Several recent studies indicate that psychological stressors display a similar degree of variety of secretagogue release patterns as was found earlier for physical stressors. A bewildering array of technique produces a bewildering array of conclusions. In rats, OT may be an important secretagogue during a novel stimulus, whereas the role for AVP is less clear. Indeed two studies out of ten suggest a stimulating role for AVP. In response to frustration and submission, OT and AVP are secreted. Regarding social isolation, results are difficult to interpret and the role of AVP could be species-dependent. In contrast plasma OT levels do not change. After restraint, ACTH release is primarily mediated by the active increase of OT and AVP does not appear to play a role. When restraint is associated with moderate levels of physical components and during immobilisation, all two secretagogs are involved in the ACTH response. With fear, ACTH response appears to be driven by OT. In humans, one study indicates that high emotionality women increase plasma OT in response to uncontrollable noise. Various neuroendocrine dysregulations have been observed in psychiatric disease. Either an increase or a decrease of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function have been described in several illnesses. Effects of OT appear to be reciprocal to the effects of AVP. OT has been called the "amnestic" neuropeptide due to its capacity to attenuate memory consolidation and retrieval. AVP exhibits a central activating action on mood, memory and selective attention. Underweight patients with anorexia nervosa have abnormally high levels of centrally directed AVP and reduced OT levels. These modifications could enhance the retention of cognitive distortions of aversive consequences of eating. Patients with bipolar disorder show a biphasic secretion of AVP. Depressive episodes are associated with decreased vasopressinergic activity whereas manic episodes involve an increased release. AVP might be responsible for an increased catecholamine activity. In addition, lithium could act as an antagonist to AVP. In schizophrenic patients, studies using the apomorphine stimulation suggest increased oxytoninergic and decreased vasopressinergic functions. These findings are consistent with the beneficial role of AVP on schizophrenic symptoms noted in several trials. The increased OT could be responsible for "positive" symptomatology such as delusions and hallucinations. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) includes a range of cognitive and behavioral disturbances that could be influenced by OT. In animals, several studies have emphasized the role of AVP in promoting repetitive grooming behaviors and maintaining conditioned response to aversive stimuli. In OCD patients, one study have reported that AVP/OT ratio was negatively correlated with symptom severity. However, an independent report found similar AVP concentrations in OC patients without a personal or family history of tic disorder and in normal subjects. Whether these modifications are only a consequence of the central disturbances or whether those peptides could participate in the pathogenesis of these affections remains to be elucidated.