Table 4.

Distribution of oxytocin receptors in the central nervous system

Brain RegionsRatHuman
mRNAOT binding (infant)*OT binding (adult)*OT binding
Olfactory system
 Olfactory bulb + ??ND
 Anterior olfactory nucleus + + + + + + + ?
 Olfactory tubercle + + + ? + + ?
 Islands of CallejaNDND + + + +
 Piriform cortex + + ???
 Entorhinal/perirhinal area + + + ND
Cortical areas
 Peduncular cortex? + + + + + (+)
 Insular cortex? + + ?
 Cingulate cortex + + + + ND?
 Retrosplenial cortex? + + + ND?
 Frontal cortex + + ?(+)ND
 Temporal cortex(+)? + ND
 Taenia tecta + + + ?(+)?
 Diagonal band of Broca + ?? +
 Basal nucleus of MeynertNDNDND + + +
Basal ganglia
 Caudoputamen + + + + + + + + ND
 Ventral pallidum cell groups + + ND + + + + +
 Globus pallidusND + + + ND + +
 Nucleus accumbens + ? + ND
Limbic system
 Lateral septal nucleus + + + + + +
 Bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST) + + + + + + + + ND
 Amygdaloid-hippocampal area + + + + + ND
 Central amygdaloid nucleus + + + + + + + + ND
 Medial amygdaloid nucleus + + + + ND
 Basolateral amygdaloid nucleus + + + + + ND
 Parasubiculum and presubiculumND + + + + ND
 Dorsal subiculum + + + + + + (+)ND
 Ventral subiculum + + + + + + + ND
Thalamus and hypothalamus
 Anteroventral thalamic nucleusND + NDND
 Paraventricular thalamic nucleus + + + + + +
 Ventromedial hypothalamic nucleusb + + + ND + + ND
 Anterior medial preoptic area + + + NDND + +
 Supraoptic nucleus (SON) + + + ND(+)ND
 Paraventricular nucleus (PVN) + + ND(+)ND
 Medial tuberal nucleusND + + + + +
 Posterior hypothalamic area + NDND + +
 Supramammillary nucleus + + + + ND
 Lateral mammillary nucleusND + + + + + +
 Medial mammillary nucleusND + + + ND +
Brain stem
 Substantia nigra pars compacta + + NDND + + +
 Ventral and dorsal tegmental area + + NDNDND
 Central gray + NDND +
 Dorsal raphe nucleus + NDND +
 Reticular nuclei + NDNDND
 Medial vestibular nucleus + NDNDND
 Hypoglossus nucleus + + NDND + +
 Nucleus of the solitary tractNDND(+) + + +
 Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve + + + + + +
 Inferior olive nucleusND + + (+)
 Substantia gelatinosa of trigeminal nucleus + + + + + + + +
Pituitary glandND + + ND
  • Expression levels of the OT receptors are indicated by the following symbols: +, low; ++, moderate; +++, high; ND, not detectable; (+), at the detection limit and/or not observed by all investigators; ?, not recorded. The data are derived from References 5, 152,184-186, 303, 311, 346, 347, 514, 556-561, 609, 610. * The relative densities of OT binding sites in adult (postnatal day 90) versus infant (postnatal day 10) rat brain has been reported by Tribollet et al. (561). † OT receptor density is strongly regulated by estrogen.