News Archive 2021

Dr Harriët Schellekens invited speaker at Harvard Medical School Interdisciplinary Oxytocin Research Initiative

2 Jul 2021
Dr Harriët Schellekens

Congratualtions to Dr Harriët Schellekens who was invited by Harvard Interdisciplinary Oxytocin Research Initiative to present her most recent research publication at the April 28th 2021 meeting.

In her presentation entitled 'Oxytocin signalling and crosstalk in the gut-brain axis', Dr Schellekens spoke of the novel evidence for crosstalk and interaction of the ghrelin, 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C receptors with the oxytocin receptor, using in vitro and ex vivo pharmacological and biochemical investigations.

She showed that these novel oxytocin heteromer formations attenuate oxytocin mediated downstream signalling, with potential important functional consequences on behavioural and neuroendocrine responses.

Dr Schellekens explains 'Ghrelin, serotonin and oxytocin affect behavioural and neuroendocrine stress responses, modulating food intake. Ghrelin increases food intake and increases food reward, while oxytocin reduces reward values of food intake, and both play important roles in the interactive actions between stress and food intake.' And how 'interestingly, ghrelin, serotonin and oxytocin are reciprocally regulated, modulating their respective levels in the circulation.

Serotonin and oxytocin also cooperatively influence social behaviour and ghrelin can increase preference for social interaction. Thus, interactions between these receptors could perhaps have important functional consequences for the regulation of our eating behaviour in a stressful social context.'

Her group also demonstrated in a simple in vivo mouse experiment, that administration of a brain penetrant 5-HTR2C antagonist, was able to potentiate oxytocin-mediated hypolocomotion, demonstrating a functional relevance of the 5-HT2 /OTR signalling. Future studies are aimed at further investigating the impact of 5-HT2A/2C/OTR interactions on food intake, reward-motivated behavior and social behavior and stress.

Dr Schellekens is a lecturer and Principal Investigator in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

Link below to related publications:  

Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

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