Oxytocin produces thermal analgesia via vasopressin-1a receptor by modulating TRPV1 and potassium conductance in the dorsal root ganglion neurons

Rafael Taeho Han, Han Byul Kim, Young Beom Kim, Kyungmin Choi, Gi Yeon Park, Pa Reum Lee, Jaehee Lee, Hye Young Kim, Chul Kyu Park, Youngnam Kang, Seog Bae Oh, Heung Sik Na

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have provided several lines of evidence that peripheral administration of oxytocin induces analgesia in human and rodents. However, the exact underlying mechanism of analgesia still remains elusive. In the present study, we aimed to identify which receptor could mediate the analgesic effect of intraperitoneal injection of oxytocin and its cellular mechanisms in thermal pain behavior. We found that oxytocin-induced analgesia could be reversed by d(CH2)5[Tyr(Me)2, Dab5] AVP, a vasopressin-1a (V1a) receptor antagonist, but not by desGly-NH2-d(CH2)5[DTyr2, Thr4]OVT, an oxytocin receptor antagonist. Single cell RT-PCR analysis revealed that V1a receptor, compared to oxytocin, vasopressin-1b and vasopressin-2 receptors, was more profoundly expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the expression of V1a receptor was predominant in transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1)-expressing DRG neurons. Fura-2 based calcium imaging experiments showed that capsaicin-induced calcium transient was significantly inhibited by oxytocin and that such inhibition was reversed by V1a receptor antagonist. Additionally, whole cell patch clamp recording demonstrated that oxytocin significantly increased potassium conductance via V1a receptor in DRG neurons. Taken together, our findings suggest that analgesic effects produced by peripheral administration of oxytocin were attributable to the activation of V1a receptor, resulting in reduction of TRPV1 activity and enhancement of potassium conductance in DRG neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalKorean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Public Welfare & Safety research program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (NRF-2014M3C8A5030612), (NRF-2016M3A9B6021209) and supported by The Chung Yang, Cha Young Sun, M.D. and Jang Hi Joo Yeu Sa Memorial Fund. We would like to thank Dr. Morris Manning for generous donation of the neuropeptide receptor antagonists.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Korean J Physiol Pharmacol.


  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • Electrophysiology
  • Oxytocin
  • Pain
  • Vasopressin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology


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