Dawood, M. Yusoff Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Last reviewed:August 2020
- Synthesis and secretion
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Either of two peptide hormones secreted by the neurohypophysis, or posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, in humans. These hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, each comprise nine amino acid residues, of which two are half cysteines forming a disulfide bridge between positions 1 and 6 (see illustration) Vasopressin is responsible for arterial vasoconstriction (pressor action) and inhibition of water excretion through the kidneys (antidiuretic action), and has a weak effect on contraction of smooth muscle including that of the uterus. The principal action of oxytocin is stimulation of smooth muscle contraction, specifically that of the uterine muscle, and milk ejection from the mammary gland. In large doses, oxytocin has a weak antidiuretic effect. Researchers have suggested that oxytocin may inhibit gonadal production of sex steroid hormones, and specifically induce the demise of the corpus luteum in some species.
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