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  Genetic variation in the maternal oxytocin system affects cortisol responsiveness to breastfeeding in infants and mothers

Krol, K. M., Monakhov, M., Lai, P. S., Ebstein, R. P., Heinrichs, M., & Grossmann, T. (2018). Genetic variation in the maternal oxytocin system affects cortisol responsiveness to breastfeeding in infants and mothers. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 4(3), 248-263. doi:10.1007/s40750-018-0090-7.

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Krol_Monakhov_2018.pdf (Publisher version), 700KB
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 Creators:
Krol, K. M.1, 2, Author           
Monakhov, Mikhail3, Author
Lai, Poh San4, Author
Ebstein, Richard P.3, Author
Heinrichs, Markus5, 6, Author
Grossmann, Tobias1, 2, Author           
Affiliations:
1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA, ou_persistent22              
2Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_1356545              
3Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, ou_persistent22              
4Department of Paediatrics, National University of Singapore, ou_persistent22              
5Department of Psychology, Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg, Germany, ou_persistent22              
6Freiburg Brain Imaging, University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany, ou_persistent22              

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Free keywords: CD38; Oxytocin; Cortisol; Breastfeeding; Stress; Infancy
 Abstract: Objectives The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates milk let-down during breastfeeding and maternal behavior in mammals. Oxytocin has also been shown to reduce stress through inhibitory effects on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) reactivity. However, it remains unknown whether and how infant cortisol levels are affected by breastfeeding and what role the oxytocin system plays in this process. In the current study, we examined whether genetic variation in the oxytocin system impacts the cortisol response to breastfeeding in 84 mother-infant dyads. Methods Salivary cortisol was measured before and after a breastfeeding session. Mothers and infants were genotyped for a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the CD38 gene (rs3796863). We compared between CC carriers and CA/AA carriers, as the CC genotype has been associated with reduced release of oxytocin and higher rates of autism in prior studies. Results Our results show that differences in infant and maternal cortisol responses to breastfeeding were associated with variation in maternal CD38. Specifically, CA/AA mothers displayed a significantly greater reduction in cortisol after breastfeeding than mothers with the CC genotype. Moreover, infants of CA/AA mothers showed significantly reduced cortisol levels after breastfeeding, as compared to infants of CC mothers. Conclusions The current findings demonstrate that maternal cortisol responses to breastfeeding vary as a function of their genetic capacity to release oxytocin, and this may also impact their infant’s stress regulation. This suggests a potential mechanism by which breastfeeding contributes to the development of HPA reactivity in infancy.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2018-03-182017-11-222018-03-142018-03-282018-09
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1007/s40750-018-0090-7
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Funding organization : Max Planck Society

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Title: Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Springer International Publishing
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 4 (3) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 248 - 263 Identifier: Other: 2198-7335
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/2198-7335