Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans

  title={Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans},
  author={Sarina M. Rodrigues and Laura R. Saslow and Natalia Garc{\'i}a and Oliver P. John and Dacher Keltner},
  journal={Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  pages={21437 - 21441}
Oxytocin, a peptide that functions as both a hormone and neurotransmitter, has broad influences on social and emotional processing throughout the body and the brain. In this study, we tested how a polymorphism (rs53576) of the oxytocin receptor relates to two key social processes related to oxytocin: empathy and stress reactivity. Compared with individuals homozygous for the G allele of rs53576 (GG), individuals with one or two copies of the A allele (AG/AA) exhibited lower behavioral and… 

Figures from this paper

Oxytocin receptor gene and parental bonding modulate prefrontal responses to cries: a NIRS Study
The results highlight that higher genetic susceptibility (G/G homozygous) to familiar context and positive early life interactions modulate more optimal neural responses to general social cues, in terms of promptness to action.
Oxytocin receptor gene variation predicts empathic concern and autonomic arousal while perceiving harm to others
The hypothesis that genetic variation in OXTR is associated with autonomic reactions when perceiving others in distress is examined and the importance of the oxytocin receptor variation in emotional and physiological reactions to the affective experiences of other conspecifics is supported.
Genetic association of the oxytocin receptor genes with panic, major depressive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
The data suggest that G carriers of the OXTR might have been more vulnerable to panic and major depressive disorder risk through a case–control study of 1257 Japanese participants, and the frequencies of the genotypes did not fit the Hardy– Weinberg equilibrium.
Empathy, Target Distress, and Neurohormone Genes Interact to Predict Aggression for Others–Even Without Provocation
Empathy uniquely predicts aggression and may do so by way of aspects of the human caregiving system in the form of oxytocin and vasopressin.
Common oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphism and social support interact to reduce stress in humans
Results indicate that genetic variation of the oxytocin system modulates the effectiveness of positive social interaction as a protective buffer against a stressful experience.
Neural mechanisms of oxytocin receptor gene mediating anxiety-related temperament
This work revealed that female subjects with the AA genotype showed increased harm avoidance scores relative to G-carrier females, and highlighted a possible neural pathway by which a naturally occurring variation of the OXTR gene may affect an anxiety-related temperamental trait in female subjects by modulating prefrontal-amygdala functional connectivity.
Oxytocin and Social Sensitivity: Gene Polymorphisms in Relation to Depressive Symptoms and Suicidal Ideation
Findings support a social sensitivity hypothesis of oxytocin, wherein the AA genotype of the CD38 SNP, which has been considered the “protective allele” was associated with increased sensitivity and susceptibility to disturbed social relations and suicidal ideation.
Associations between Oxytocin Receptor Gene Polymorphisms, Empathy towards Animals and Implicit Associations towards Animals
The preliminary findings show, for the first time, that between allelic variation in OXTR and animal directed empathy in humans maybe associated, suggesting that OX TRs social behaviour role crosses species boundaries, warranting independent replication.


Empathy toward Strangers Triggers Oxytocin Release and Subsequent Generosity
It is found that oxytocin is a physiologic signature for empathy and that empathy mediates generosity, and higher levels of empathy were also associated with more generous monetary offers toward strangers in the ultimatum game.
Positive Association of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) with Autism in the Chinese Han Population
Oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and serotonin transporter (5-HTT) genes associated with observed parenting.
This first study on the role of both OXTR and 5-HTT genes in human parenting points to molecular genetic differences that may be implicated in the production of oxytocin explaining differences in sensitive parenting.
Oxytocin, vasopressin and sociality.
Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress
Brain Oxytocin: A Key Regulator of Emotional and Social Behaviours in Both Females and Males
  • I. Neumann
  • Biology, Psychology
    Journal of neuroendocrinology
  • 2008
The brain OXT system seems to be a potential target for the development of therapeutics to treat anxiety‐ and depression‐related diseases or abnormal social behaviours including autism, as revealed in rats, mice, sheep and voles.
Oxytocin Attenuates Amygdala Responses to Emotional Faces Regardless of Valence
Impact of prosocial neuropeptides on human brain function.