Lege Artis Medicinae

[Oxytocin as a neurotransmitter: beyond the peripheral scope]

VARGA Katalin

DECEMBER 21, 2011

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2011;21(12)

[Besides its effect on the uterus and breasts, oxytocin also regulates affiliative behaviour. The so-called central oxytocin effect influences pair bonding, maternal care and attachment through the regulatory functions of oxytocin that acts as a neurotransmitter within the brain. The central oxytocin effect increases trust and social support, decreases fear and anxiety, and promotes wound healing. These effects form the basis of the stress-triggered, oxytocin-based ‘calm and connection’ reaction. Some methods that are widely used in modern obstretric practice - such as the use of synthetic oxytocin for inducing or speeding up labour or epidural anaesthesia - hinder the psycho-emotive effects that are based on natural oxytocin. Epigenetic studies performed in animals indicate that the oxytocin effect experienced at birth can be transgenerational.]



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[Occurrence of cardiometabolic risk factors among shift workers]


[INTRODUCTION - Shift workers have an impaired circadian rhythm, which might have an adverse effect on their health. In order to assess cardiometabolic risk in shift workers, a cross-sectional study was performed among active workers (aged 25-66 years, with a minimal shift working experience of 5 years). METHODS - In total 481 workers (121 men, 360 women) registered by the occupational health service were enrolled in our study. Most participants worked in the light industry (58.2%) or in public service (23.9%). Following questionnaire-based data recording, anthropometric measurements and physical examination were performed and fasting venous blood sample was taken for measuring laboratory parameters. Data from shift workers (n=234, 54 men and 180 women, age: 43.9±8.1 years) were compared with those of day workers (n=247, 67 men and 180 women, age: 42.8±8.5 years). RESULTS - Compared with day workers, shift workers had bigger weight (76.6±16.1 vs 73.9±17.6 kg; p<0.05), higher BMI index (27.5±5.3 vs 26.0±4.9 kg/m2; p<0.01) and systolic blood pressure (123±19 vs 119±16 mmHg, p<0.01), and higher prevalence rate of diabetes (4.3 vs 1.2 %; p<0.05) and cardiovascular diseases (3.8 vs 0.8 %; p<0.05). In addition, the proportion of participants who performed regular physical activity was lower (20.6 vs 38.7 %; p<0.001) and that of current smokers were higher (35.0 % vs 19.5 %; p<0.001) in shift workers than in day workers. In laboratory findings, only one difference has been found: HDL-cholesterol level was lower among women (shift workers versus workers: 1.56±0.32 vs 1.68±0.36 mmol/l; p<0.01). CONCLUSION - Long-term shift work (day-night) results in a less healthy lifestyle and worse cardiometabolic risk factors compared with day work. Thus, our study highlights the importance of measures for preventing cardiovascular diseases in shift workers.]

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