Article

Oxytocin in schizophrenia: a review of evidence for its therapeutic effects

University of California, San Diego Medical Center Department of Psychiatry.
Acta Neuropsychiatrica (Impact Factor: 0.64). 06/2012; 24(3):130-146. DOI: 10.1111/j.1601-5215.2011.00634.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: The suggestion that the neurohormone oxytocin may have clinical application in the treatment of schizophrenia was first published in 1972. Since then, a considerable body of research on a variety of fronts--including several recent double-blind treatment trials-has buttressed these early reports, providing support for the assertion that the oxytocin system is a promising and novel therapeutic target for this devastating malady. Herein, we review the diverse, convergent lines of evidence supporting the therapeutic potential of oxytocin in psychotic illness. METHODS: We performed a systematic review of preclinical and clinical literature pertaining to oxytocin's role in schizophrenia. RESULTS: Multiple lines of evidence converge to support the antipsychotic potential of oxytocin. These include several animal models of schizophrenia, pharmacological studies examining the impact of antipsychotics on the oxytocin system, human trials in patients examining aspects of the oxytocin system, and several double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical treatment trials. CONCLUSIONS: There exists considerable, convergent evidence that oxytocin has potential as a novel antipsychotic with a unique mechanism of action. Auspiciously, based on the few chronic trials to date, its safety profile and tolerability appear very good. That said, several critical clinical questions await investigation before widespread use is clinically warranted.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
135 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The hormones oxytocin and testosterone have been implicated in autism spectrum and schizophrenia-spectrum cognition and disorders, but their roles in mediating these psychological phenotypes remain largely unknown. We genotyped a large set of healthy individuals for loci that represent established genetic indicators of serum testosterone and oxytocin levels, and tested for associations of these genetic indices of hormone levels with self-report measures of autistic and schizotypal cognition. A low genetic index of testosterone, a high genetic index of oxytocin, and/or a low ratio of testosterone to oxytocin indices were positively correlated with high imagination (by the Autism Quotient) and high positive and total schizotypy (by the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire). The genetic indices for oxytocin, and testosterone relative to oxytocin, also showed significant correlations with a metric of positive schizotypy relative to autism, implicating higher oxytocin and lower testosterone in increased positively-schizotypal traits combined with decreased autism-associated traits. These results link genetic indicators of serum hormone levels with measures of schizotypy and autism among healthy individuals.
    Personality and Individual Differences 06/2015; 79. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2015.01.052 · 1.86 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Psychiatric Times 08/2013;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: I describe an integrative social-evolutionary model for the adaptive significance of the human oxytocinergic system. The model is based on a role for this hormone in the generation and maintenance of social familiarity and affiliation across five homologous, functionally similar, and sequentially co-opted contexts: mothers with offspring, female and male mates, kin groups, individuals with reciprocity partners, and individuals within cooperating and competing social groups defined by culture. In each situation, oxytocin motivates, mediates and rewards the cognitive and behavioural processes that underlie the formation and dynamics of a more or less stable social group, and promotes a relationship between two or more individuals. Such relationships may be positive (eliciting neurological reward, reducing anxiety and thus indicating fitness-enhancing effects), or negative (increasing anxiety and distress, and thus motivating attempts to alleviate a problematic, fitness-reducing social situation). I also present evidence that testosterone exhibits opposite effects from oxytocin on diverse aspects of cognition and behaviour, most generally by favouring self-oriented, asocial and antisocial behaviours. I apply this model for effects of oxytocin and testosterone to understanding human psychological disorders centrally involving social behaviour. Reduced oxytocin and higher testosterone levels have been associated with under-developed social cognition, especially in autism. By contrast, some combination of oxytocin increased above normal levels, and lower testosterone, has been reported in a notable number of studies of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, and, in some cases, higher oxytocin involves maladaptively ‘hyper-developed’ social cognition in these conditions. This pattern of findings suggests that human social cognition and behaviour are structured, in part, by joint and opposing effects of oxytocin and testosterone, and that extremes of such joint effects partially mediate risks and phenotypes of autism and psychotic-affective conditions. These considerations have direct implications for the development of therapies for alleviating disorders of social cognition, and for understanding how such disorders are associated with the evolution of human cognitive-affective architecture.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015; DOI:10.1111/brv.12175 · 10.26 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
22 Downloads
Available from
May 26, 2014