The oxytocin-CD38-Vitamin A axis in pregnant women involves both hypothalamic and placental regulation

Moriya Gamliel*, K. L. Anderson, R. P. Ebstein, N. Yirmiya, D. Mankuta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Oxytocin, a hypothalamic hormone secreted upon release of ectoenzyme CD38, plays a vital role in interpersonal bonding behaviors. Reduced plasma oxytocin characterizes autistic individuals. CD38 levels, which were found to be low in LBCs derived from autistic patients, is upregulated upon the addition of a vitamin A derivative. During pregnancy, oxytocin is also secreted by placenta. Recent controversial studies have suggested an increased risk for autism when oxytocin is used during induction and augmentation of labor. We aimed to examine the tripartite relationship between oxytocin, CD38 and vitamin A in pregnant women and their newborns.Methods: Thirty-one healthy expectant mothers were enlisted for this study. Levels of oxytocin, CD38 and ATRA were measured in both maternal peripheral and newborn cord blood, and the tripartite relationship between these parameters examined. Estrogen and progesterone levels of the mothers were also recorded. Several clinical measures were also noted.Results: Mean maternal oxytocin and vitamin A levels were approximately 8- and 4-fold higher, respectively, than neonatal levels. CD38 expression, however, was 9 times higher in neonates than in the maternal group. Positive correlation was found between maternal and cord blood for both oxytocin and CD38.Conclusions: This establishment of normative values for oxytocin, CD38 and vitamin A in healthy pregnant women and newborns may serve as a reference in the investigation of developing pathologies of disorders such as autism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2685-2690
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number16
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Autism
  • CD38
  • Vitamin A
  • oxtyocin
  • pregnancy


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