Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A cautionary note on oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric disorders

Date:
August 12, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
The hormone oxytocin is known for its widespread effects on social and reproductive processes, and recent data from intranasal administration in humans has produced hope for its use as a therapeutic in autism, schizophrenia, and other disorders. However, this leap to human use is happening without previous animal studies of long-term oxytocin administration, and without knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms involved in the behavioral findings. A new study indicates that the promising short-term effects often observed after a single dose of oxytocin may not translate to positive effects after long-term administration.

The hormone oxytocin is known for its widespread effects on social and reproductive processes, and recent data from intranasal administration in humans has produced hope for its use as a therapeutic in autism, schizophrenia, and other disorders.

However, this leap to human use is happening without previous animal studies of long-term oxytocin administration, and without knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms involved in the behavioral findings.

A new study now published in Biological Psychiatry indicates that the promising short-term effects often observed after a single dose of oxytocin may not translate to positive effects after long-term administration.

This research was led by Dr. Karen Bales, Professor and Vice Chair of Psychology at the University of California. She and her colleagues examined the long-term effects of oxytocin treatment using the prairie vole, a small rodent that forms strong life-long pair bonds and is thus often used in studies of social behavior.

Both male and female voles were treated with one of three dosages of intranasal oxytocin, administered daily from weaning through sexual maturity. During this time, the researchers observed and recorded the voles' social interactions. They also conducted tests of social and anxiety-related behaviors in the adult voles, after the oxytocin treatment had finished, allowing them to measure any long-term effects.

As expected, oxytocin treatment increased social behavior in male voles, similar to the effects repeatedly observed in humans. However, the long-term effects were concerning, with male voles showing deficits in their typical behaviors.

"In this study, we showed that long-term exposure to oxytocin in adolescent male prairie voles led to disruption of social bond formation in these males as adults," explained Bales. "Male prairie voles which received a dose similar to that being tested in humans, or even a lower dose, did not form pair-bonds normally with their pair-mate. Instead these males chose to associate with a strange female."

This important finding should suggest caution in the long-term use of intranasal oxytocin in developing humans.

"The fact that long term treatment with oxytocin had the opposite impact of initial doses with the same substance suggests that special strategies will be needed if oxytocin is ever to become a long-term treatment for autism or schizophrenia," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Bales agrees, and added, "In our continuing research program, we also have preliminary data suggesting that these treatments caused long-term changes in the oxytocin system. Additional animal work, carried out in close consultation with the psychiatrists carrying out clinical trials, will be necessary to use intranasal oxytocin in an informed and responsible way."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karen L. Bales, Allison M. Perkeybile, Olivia G. Conley, Meredith H. Lee, Caleigh D. Guoynes, Griffin M. Downing, Catherine R. Yun, Marjorie Solomon, Suma Jacob, Sally P. Mendoza. Chronic Intranasal Oxytocin Causes Long-Term Impairments in Partner Preference Formation in Male Prairie Voles. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (3): 180 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.08.025

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "A cautionary note on oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812102714.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, August 12). A cautionary note on oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812102714.htm
Elsevier. "A cautionary note on oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812102714.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins