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A Review of Oxytocin's Effects on the Positive, Negative, and Cognitive Domains of Schizophrenia

Feifel D, Shilling PD, MacDonald K.

Biological Psychiatry 2015 Aug 13. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.025. 


Schizophrenia is a disabling, heterogeneous disorder with clinical features that can be parsed into three domains: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive deficits. Current antipsychotic drugs produce fairly robust clinical benefit against positive symptoms but typically have minimal therapeutic effects on negative symptoms and cognitive deficits. Oxytocin (OT) is a nonapeptide that, in addition to its role as a hormone regulating peripheral reproductive-relevant functions, acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Several lines of preclinical and clinical research suggest that the OT system may play a role in regulating the expression of schizophrenia spectrum disorders and that targeting the central OT system may yield novel treatments to address these symptoms. In this review, we summarize the extant preclinical and clinical evidence relevant to the role of OT in schizophrenia with particular emphasis on its putative therapeutic effects on each of the three above-mentioned clinical domains.