Vincent Du Vigneaud synthesized penicillin,oxytocin,vasopressin

Vincent Du Vigneaud – synthesized oxytocin & vasopressin

Article on Vincent Du Vigneaud

Biography & contributions

Vincent Du Vigneaud was an American biochemist and Nobel laureate born on May 18, 1901 – died on December 11, 1978. Du Vigneaud made important contributions towards chemistry like worked on biochemically important sulfur compounds and for the first synthesis of polypeptide hormones.

Du Vigneaud’s other major research works is on penicillin synthesis, methionine, biotin (vitamin B7), oxytocin structure and vasopressin structure. He identified the chemical structure of insulin and established the structure of the sulfur-bearing biotin.

He also studied intermediary metabolism, transmethylation and metabolism of one-carbon compounds, and transsulfuration.


Oxytocin is a human hormone used clinically to stimulate contractions of the uterus during labour, to control bleeding following delivery, and to stimulate the secretion of breast milk. Oxytocin is also present in men, playing a role in sperm movement and production of testosterone by the testes. Major research studies had investigated and identified the oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors. Therefore, it also called the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle chemical’.

Oxytocin is made in magnocellular neurosecretory cells in the supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and is released into the blood from the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

Oxytocin is also made by some neurons in the paraventricular nucleus that project to other parts of the brain and to the spinal cord. Synthetic oxytocin is sold as medication under the trade names Pitocin and Syntocinon and also as generic oxytocin.

Oxytocin is destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, and therefore must be administered by injection or as nasal spray. Oxytocin has a half-life of typically about three minutes in the blood. Oxytocin given intravenously does not enter the brain in significant quantities.


Vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone is a synthetic, potent endogenous hormone which is responsible for regulating plasma osmolality and volume. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain to control circadian rhythm, thermoregulation, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone release (ACTH).

Vasopressin is a nonapeptide, synthesized as a pro-hormone in magnocellular neurone cell bodies of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the posterior hypothalamus. It is bound to a carrier protein, neurohypophysin, and transported along the supraoptic hypophyseal tract to the axonal terminals of magnocellular neurones located in the posterior pituitary.

Vasopressin acts on the kidneys and blood vessels. Vasopressin helps prevent loss of water from the body by reducing urine output and helping the kidneys reabsorb water into the body. Vasopressin also raises blood pressure by narrowing blood vessels.

Vasopressin is used to treat diabetes insipidus, which is caused by a lack of this naturally occurring pituitary hormone in the body. Vasopressin is also used to treat or prevent certain conditions of the stomach after surgery or during abdominal x-rays.

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