Neuropeptide diversity and the regulation of social behavior in New World primates

Jeffrey A. French, Jack H. Taylor, Aaryn C. Mustoe, Jon Cavanaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) are important hypothalamic neuropeptides that regulate peripheral physiology, and have emerged as important modulators of brain function, particularly in the social realm. OT structure and the genes that ultimately determine structure are highly conserved among diverse eutherian mammals, but recent discoveries have identified surprising variability in OT and peptide structure in New World monkeys (NWM), with five new OT variants identified to date. This review explores these new findings in light of comparative OT/AVP ligand evolution, documents coevolutionary changes in the oxytocin and vasopressin receptors (OTR and V1aR), and highlights the distribution of neuropeptidergic neurons and receptors in the primate brain. Finally, the behavioral consequences of OT and AVP in regulating NWM sociality are summarized, demonstrating important neuromodulatory effects of these compounds and OT ligand-specific influences in certain social domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-39
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Monogamy
  • New World monkey
  • Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin receptor
  • Social behavior
  • Vasopressin
  • Vasopressin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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