Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 10th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Hormonal Harmony

Understanding more about the action of the hormone oxytocin

01 November 2021

Hormonal Harmony

Like a musician that gets recognised for their one-hit-wonder but wants you to appreciate their much more meaningful back-catalogue, oxytocin is known for popping up during moments of intimate enjoyment but actually influences physiological processes behind everything from childbirth to social interaction. A study to better understand the hormone’s production and release examined tissue from the hypothalamus brain region of mice (pictured, with oxytocin-producing neurons coloured). Oxytocin is released directly into the brain through the dendrites – the cells’ long tendrils – when calcium is absorbed. The study showed this uptake is dictated by physical properties of the liquid around the cells, and that it was possible to activate receptors within the dendrites to boost calcium uptake regardless of the surrounding environment. Oxytocin-based treatments often struggle to reach the brain, so this finding could point to new approaches that improve efficacy, and help many mental health conditions.

Written by Anthony Lewis

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.