Oxytocin

Overview
  • Oxytocin is a peptide hormone released by the posterior pituitary and is critical for milk let down during lactation. Suckling of the nipple results in nervous signals that are ultimately conducted to neuronal cell bodies within the hypothalamus that are stimulated to release oxytocin from their nerve endings in the posterior pituitary. Spikes in oxytocin concentration results in contraction of myoepithelial cells surrounding mammary ducts, resulting in the actual ejection of milk. It is important to point out that oxytocin is not required for the actual synthesis of milk but is only involved in it ejection from the breast.