Changes in endogenous oxytocin levels after intranasal oxytocin treatment in adult men with autism: An exploratory study with long-term follow-up
- Journal Article
Intranasal administration of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) is increasingly explored as a potential treatment for targeting the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previously, interactions of exogenously administered OT with its endogenous production have been demonstrated following single-dose administrations. However, the impact of repeated, long-term OT use on endogenous salivary OT levels is unknown. In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study with between-subject design, 34 adult men with ASD were either assigned to a four-week treatment of once-daily intranasal OT administrations (24 IU) or placebo. Salivary OT samples were obtained before and after the treatment period as well as at two follow-up sessions, four weeks and one year after cessation of the treatment. Receiving OT intranasally but not placebo reliably increased endogenous salivary levels of OT immediately post-treatment and at the follow-up session four weeks post treatment, indicating an interaction between exogenously administered OT and its endogenous production. Notably, increases in salivary OT at the four-week follow-up session were most pronounced in individuals with larger behavioral improvements in ASD social symptoms. These results suggest that OT's positive effects on social behaviors may lead to a self-perpetuating elevation of OT levels through a feed-forward triggering of its own release. Together, the current investigation provides initial evidence that repeated intranasal administration of OT can induce long-lasting changes in endogenous salivary OT levels, presumably through a positive spiral of OT release. Show more
Journal / seriesEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Pages / Article No.
SubjectOxytocin; Autism spectrum disorder; Endogenous salivary levels; Intranasal administration; Social responsiveness; Repetitive behavior
Organisational unit03963 - Wenderoth, Nicole / Wenderoth, Nicole
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