Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Impact of gestational treatment or prenatal cocaine exposure on early postpartum oxytocin synthesis and receptor binding

Prior research reported decreased oxytocin levels in specific brain regions and disruptions in maternal care following gestational cocaine treatment in rats. Similarly, prenatal exposure to cocaine impaired maternal behavior in adulthood, but this was not associated with oxytocin level disruptions. To determine if cocaine alters other aspects of the oxytocin system, oxytocin mRNA transcription and receptor binding were examined on postpartum day two in relevant brain regions following gestational treatment with, or prenatal exposure to, either cocaine or saline. Results indicated an increase in oxytocin mRNA levels in the paraventricular nucleus of dams treated with cocaine gestationally with no group differences in brain regions dependent upon prenatal exposure. No significant differences in receptor binding were found in any region examined for either group of dams. These findings suggest that cocaine affects multiple aspects of the oxytocin system in the early postpartum that could be associated with altered maternal behavior.