A Novel Role of CD38 and Oxytocin as Tandem Molecular Moderators of Human Social Behavior

Serenella Tolomeo, Benjamin Chiao, Zhen Lei, Soo Hong Chew, Richard P. Ebstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
362 Downloads (Pure)


Oxytocin is an important modulator of human affiliative behaviors, including social skills, human pair bonding, and friendship. CD38 will be discussed as an immune marker and then in more detail the mechanisms of CD38 on releasing brain oxytocin. Mention is made of the paralogue of oxytocin, vasopressin, that has often overlapping and complementary functions with oxytocin on social behavior. Curiously, vasopressin does not require CD38 to be released from the brain. This review discusses the social salience hypothesis of oxytocin action, a novel view of how this molecule influences much of human social behaviors often in contradictory ways. The oxytocinergic-vasopressinergic systems are crucial modulators of broad aspects of human personality. Of special interest are studies of these two hormones in trust related behavior observed using behavioral economic games. This review also covers the role of oxytocin in parenting and parental attachment. In conclusion, the effects of oxytocin on human behavior depend on the individual's social context and importantly as well, the individual's cultural milieu, viz. East and West. ACRONYMS: ACC = Anterior Cingulate ADP = Adenosine diphosphate AQ = Autism Quotient cADPR = Cyclic ADP-ribose CNS = Central nervous system DA = Dopamine eQTLC = Expression Quantitative Trait Loci LC-NE = Locus Coeruleus-Norepinephrine MRI = Magnetic Resonance Imaging OFC = Orbitofrontal cortices OXT = Oxytocin RAGE = Receptor for advanced glycation end-products SARM1 = Sterile Alpha and toll/interleukin-1 receptor motif-containing 1 TRPM2= Transient Receptor Potential Cation Channel Subfamily M Member 2 AVP = Vasopressin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-272
Number of pages22
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date28 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • CD157
  • CD38
  • human personality
  • oxytocin
  • pair bonding
  • social and affiliative behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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