Hypothalamic function


We have a special interest is the molecular and cellular processes underlying morphogenesis and function of oxytocinergic neurons that affect both peripheral (i.e. neuroendocrine) and central nervous system activities. Oxytocin, is implicated in the central regulation of stress, social behaviors and appetite. In the periphery, oxytocin regulates labor and milk let-down.    Disruptions of the oxytocinergic system in humans have been implicated in Prader-Willi syndrome and autism. 

The fact that that zebrafish have merely 20-25 oxytocin neurons, presents us with the exceptional possibility to analyse their connectivity, molecular composition and function at a single-cell resolution. We study role of specific oxytocinergic circuits in  stress and social behaviors. We are also intersted in the regulation of oxytocin synthesis, transport and release.

Early life control of stress and
social behaviors

How  developmental processes impact adult physiological functions is pertinent to understanding the distinctive vulnerability of hypothalamic neurons in neurodevelopmental neuro-endocrine and psychiatric disorders. We study the long-term effects of developmental factors on stress coping and social behavior of the adult. We also seek for neuro-developmental mechanisms underlying the effects of oxytocin on distinct social modalities.



Selected Publications

  • Swaminathan, A., Gliksberg, M., Anbalagan, S., Wigoda, N. and G. Levkowitz. (2023). Stress resilience is established during development and is regulated by complement factors. Cell Reports 42, 111973 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111973.
  • Nunes, A.R#, Gliksberg, M.#, Varela, S.A.M, Teles, M., Wircer, E., Blechman, J., Petri, G., Levkowitz, G.* and R.F. Oliveira* (2021) Developmental effects of oxytocin neurons on social affiliation and processing of social information. Journal of Neuroscience 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2939-20.2021. pubmed
  • Anbalagan S., Blechman J., Gliksberg M., Gordon L., Rotkopf R., Dadosh T., Shimoni E. and G. Levkowitz. (2019). Robo2 regulates synaptic oxytocin content by affecting actin dynamics. eLife 8.  DOI: 10.7554/eLife.45650. pubmed
  • Wircer E., J. Blechmann, N. Borodovsky, M. Tsoory, A.R. Nunes, R.F. Oliveira and G. Levkowitz. (2017). Homeodomain protein Otp affects developmental neuropeptide switching in oxytocin neurons associated with a long-term effect on social behavior. eLife 6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.22170. pubmed
  • Amir-Zilberstein L., J. Blechman, Y. Sztainberg, W.H.J. Norton, A. Reuveny, J.L., N. Borodovsky, M. Tahor, Bonkowsky, L. Bally-Cuif, A. Chen and G. Levkowitz. (2012). Homeodomain protein Otp and activity-dependent splicing modulate neuronal adaptation to stress. Neuron 73:279-291. pubmed