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A Role for Oxytocin in the Etiology and Treatment of Schizophrenia

Rich ME, Caldwell HK

Front Endocrinology (Lausanne). 2015 Jun 3;6:90. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2015.00090.


Schizophrenia is a chronic debilitating neuropsychiatric disorder estimated to affect 51 million people worldwide. Several symptom domains characterize schizophrenia, including negative symptoms, such as social withdrawal and anhedonia, cognitive impairments, such as disorganized thinking and impaired memory, and positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. While schizophrenia is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder with no single “cause,” there is evidence that the oxytocin (Oxt) system may be dysregulated in some individuals. Further, treatment with intranasal Oxt reduces some of the heterogeneous symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Since Oxt is known for its modulatory effects on a variety of social and non-social behaviors, it is perhaps not surprising that it may contribute to some aspects of schizophrenia and could also be a useful therapeutic agent. In this review, we highlight what is known about Oxt’s contributions to schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related behaviors and discuss its potential as a therapeutic agent.

Copyright © 2015 Rich and Caldwell.