The French National Centre for Scientific Research

Oxytocinergic modulation of astrocytes-neurones networkds orchestrating emotional control

Project leader : Alexandre Charlet

Oxytocin is an evolutionarily ancient neuropeptide, found in species ranging from invertebrates to mammals, synthesized and released mainly from the paraventricular and supraoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus. Oxytocin has firmly grasped our attention over the last several years and its central release have been shown to orchestrate the modulation of cognition and emotion. We recently identified a small population of only thirty oxytocinergic neurons of particular interest in the control of pain (Eliava et al., Neuron, 2016), and that a small subpopulation of oxytocinergic neurons can form engrams able to modulate emotions such as fear (Hasan et al., Neuron, 2019). Finally, we just demonstrated how oxytocin is released to control social interactions (Tang et al., Nature Neuroscience, 2020). Since a few years, we are interested in the role of astrocytes in the oxytocinergic modulation of neuronal circuits underlying emotions, with a special focus in the central amygdala centrale (Wahis et al., Nature Neuroscience, 2021). Using ex vivo patch-clamp and calcium imaging combined with selective optogenetic manipulation of oxytocinergic neurons or local astrocytes, we currently examine how oxytocin can modulate the amygdala neuro-glia network involved in the emotional process of pain and anxiety.
Légende : OTR positive astrocytes (in red) are a specific astrocytes subpopulation with distinct morphological properties : they are bigger, with more and longer processes, and do propagate the oxytocinergic signal to non-OTR strocytes (in white).


Alexandre Charlet
Damien Kerspern
Angel Baudon


Prof. Valery Grinevich, Mannheim, Germany.
Prof. Javier Stern group CNS mechanisms in cardiometabolic diseases, Georgia State University, USA.
Prof. Bice Chini group Neurobiology of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors, CNR Neuroscience Institute, Milan, Italy.
Dr. Nathalie Rouach group neuroglial interactions in cerebral physiopathology, Collège de France, Paris, France.


The French National Centre for Scientific Research