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Whole-Brain Wiring Diagram of Oxytocin System in Adult Mice
Journal of Neuroscience  (IF6.709),  Pub Date : 2022-06-22, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.0307-22.2022
Seoyoung Son, Steffy B. Manjila, Kyra T. Newmaster, Yuan-ting Wu, Daniel J. Vanselow, Matt Ciarletta, Todd E. Anthony, Keith C. Cheng, Yongsoo Kim

Oxytocin (Oxt) neurons regulate diverse physiological responses via direct connections with different neural circuits. However, the lack of comprehensive input-output wiring diagrams of Oxt neurons and their quantitative relationship with Oxt receptor (Oxtr) expression presents challenges to understanding circuit-specific Oxt functions. Here, we establish a whole-brain distribution and anatomic connectivity map of Oxt neurons, and their relationship with Oxtr expression using high-resolution 3D mapping methods in adult male and female mice. We use a flatmap to describe Oxt neuronal expression in four hypothalamic domains including under-characterized Oxt neurons in the tuberal nucleus (TU). Oxt neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH) broadly project to nine functional circuits that control cognition, brain state, and somatic visceral response. In contrast, Oxt neurons in the supraoptic (SO) and accessory (AN) nuclei have limited central projection to a small subset of the nine circuits. Surprisingly, quantitative comparison between Oxt output and Oxtr expression showed no significant correlation across the whole brain, suggesting abundant indirect Oxt signaling in Oxtr-expressing areas. Unlike output, Oxt neurons in both the PVH and SO receive similar monosynaptic inputs from a subset of the nine circuits mainly in the thalamic, hypothalamic, and cerebral nuclei areas. Our results suggest that PVH-Oxt neurons serve as a central modulator to integrate external and internal information via largely reciprocal connection with the nine circuits while the SO-Oxt neurons act mainly as unidirectional Oxt hormonal output. In summary, our Oxt wiring diagram provides anatomic insights about distinct behavioral functions of Oxt signaling in the brain.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Oxytocin (Oxt) neurons regulate diverse physiological functions from prosocial behavior to pain sensation via central projection in the brain. Thus, understanding detailed anatomic connectivity of Oxt neurons can provide insight on circuit-specific roles of Oxt signaling in regulating different physiological functions. Here, we use high-resolution mapping methods to describe the 3D distribution, monosynaptic input and long-range output of Oxt neurons, and their relationship with Oxt receptor (Oxtr) expression across the entire mouse brain. We found Oxt connections with nine functional circuits controlling cognition, brain state, and somatic visceral response. Furthermore, we identified a quantitatively unmatched Oxt-Oxtr relationship, suggesting broad indirect Oxt signaling. Together, our comprehensive Oxt wiring diagram advances our understanding of circuit-specific roles of Oxt neurons.