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Maternal and paternal plasma, salivary, and urinary oxytocin and parent-infant synchrony: considering stress and affiliation components of human bonding

Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.
Developmental Science (Impact Factor: 3.89). 07/2011; 14(4):752-61. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.01021.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Studies in mammals have implicated the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) in processes of bond formation and stress modulation, yet the involvement of OT in human bonding throughout life remains poorly understood. We assessed OT in the plasma, saliva, and urine of 112 mothers and fathers interacting with their 4-6-month-old infants. Parent-infant interactions were micro-coded for parent and child's social behaviors and for the temporal coordination of their socio-affective cues. Parents were interviewed regarding their attachment to the infant and reported on bonding to own parents, romantic attachment, and parenting stress. Results indicated that OT in plasma (pOT) and saliva (sOT) were inter-related and were unrelated to OT in urine (uOT). pOT and sOT in mothers and fathers were associated with parent and child's social engagement, affect synchrony, and positive communicative sequences between parent and child. uOT was related to moments of interactive stress among mothers only, indexed by the co-occurrence of infant negative engagement and mother re-engagement attempts. pOT and sOT were associated with mothers' and fathers' attachment relationships throughout life: to own parents, partner, and infant, whereas uOT correlated with relationship anxiety and parenting stress among mothers only. Similar to other mammals, OT is involved in human attachment and contingent parenting. The dual role of OT in stress and affiliation underscores its complex involvement in processes of social bonding throughout life.

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Available from: Ruth Feldman, Jul 29, 2015
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    • "Even though other papers reported low or non-correlation of salivary and plasma OT (e.g. Grewen et al. 2010; Feldman et al. 2011), the authors of these investigations emphasize that it was not the goal of their studies to identify a correlation . Thus, the designs of these studies cannot rule out that different time lags of changes in plasma and salivary OT levels are the source of the non-correlation. "
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    ABSTRACT: The neuroactive hormone oxytocin (OT) has significant influence on human behavior, and it has been measured peripherally in venous blood and in saliva in many behavioral neuroscience studies. Assessment of salivary hormone levels is popular due to non-invasiveness, but there is a controversy as to whether OT can be reliably measured in saliva and how possible time lags between plasma and salivary OT levels influence correlation. In order to shed light on the question whether salivary and plasma OT levels correlate, we designed an experiment where healthy young men had to look at a presentation of trustworthy faces on a computer screen (faces were taken from an established database in trust research). During three points in time, plasma and saliva samples were collected and analyzed using ELISA. Plasma and salivary OT levels did not correlate even when considering a time lag of 15 or 30 minutes. Our results suggest that plasma and salivary OT levels do not correlate in healthy young men, and hence comparison of results across plasma and salivary studies is neither informative nor warranted. However, we recommend replicating this study based on mixed-gender samples.
    Neuro endocrinology letters 11/2014; 35(6):470-473. · 0.94 Impact Factor
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    • "The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between visual attention for social information and salivary OT levels in preschool children with ASD compared to children with typical development. In terms of peripheral OT, studies have reported correlations between plasma and salivary OT concentrations in humans (Carter et al., 2007; Feldman et al., 2011). Although several studies have examined the relationship between social dysfunction and peripheral OT levels, or between social dysfunction and the pattern of visual attention using eyetracking , the association between the two in preschool children with ASD and typical development remains unclear. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study was designed to ascertain the relationship between visual attention for social information and oxytocin (OT) levels in Japanese preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We hypothesized that poor visual attention for social information and low OT levels are crucially important risk factors associated with ASD. We measured the pattern of gaze fixation for social information using an eye-tracking system, and salivary OT levels by the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). There was a positive association between salivary OT levels and fixation duration for an indicated object area in a finger-pointing movie in typically developing (TD) children. However, no association was found between these variables in children with ASD. Moreover, age decreased an individual's attention to people moving and pointed-at objects, but increased attention for mouth-in-the-face recognition, geometric patterns, and biological motions. Thus, OT levels likely vary during visual attention for social information between TD children and those with ASD. Further, aging in preschool children has considerable effect on visual attention for social information.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 09/2014; 8:295. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2014.00295 · 3.70 Impact Factor
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    • "Samples were then analyzed by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) using the Assay Designs EIA kit (Assay Designs, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, USA). This kit has been validated in a range of species and across different biological media including urine (Wismer-Fries et al., 2005; Carter et al., 2007; Gray et al., 2007; Seltzer and Ziegler, 2007; Seltzer et al., 2010; Snowdon et al., 2010; Feldman et al., 2011). The specificity of the antibody used in this assay has been repeatedly validated via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and results across different species and biological media indicate that the assay antibody binds only to intact OT and does not show cross-reactivity with other peptide hormones (Wismer-Fries et al., 2005; Carter et al., 2007; Seltzer and Ziegler, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: MDMA (±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, ‘ecstasy’) is reportedly used recreationally because it increases feelings of sociability and interpersonal closeness. Prior work suggests that the pro-social effects of MDMA may be mediated by release of oxytocin. A direct examination of plasma levels of oxytocin after acute doses of oxytocin and MDMA, in the same individuals, would provide further evidence for the idea that MDMA produces its prosocial effects by increasing oxytocin. Fourteen healthy MDMA users participated in a 4-session, double-blind study in which they received oral MDMA (0.75 and 1.5 mg/kg), intranasal oxytocin (20 IU or 40 IU), and placebo. Plasma oxytocin concentrations, as well as cardiovascular and subjective effects were assessed before and at several time points after drug administration. MDMA (1.5 mg/kg only) increased plasma oxytocin levels to a mean peak of 83.7 pg/ml at approximately 90-120 minutes, compared to 18.6 pg/ml after placebo. Intranasal oxytocin (40 IU, but not 20 IU) increased plasma oxytocin levels to 48.0 pg/ml, 30-60 min after nasal spray administration. MDMA dose-dependently increased heart rate, blood pressure, feelings of euphoria (e.g., ‘High’ and ‘Like Drug’), and feelings of sociability, whereas oxytocin had no cardiovascular or subjective effects. The subjective and cardiovascular responses to MDMA were not related to plasma oxytocin levels, although the N was small for this analysis. Future studies examining the effects of oxytocin antagonists on responses to MDMA will help to determine the mechanism by which MDMA produces pro-social effects.
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