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Potential of Oxytocin in the Treatment of Schizophrenia

Authors
  • Shilling, Paul D.
  • Feifel, David
Type
Published Article
Journal
CNS Drugs
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Feb 19, 2016
Volume
30
Issue
3
Pages
193–208
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s40263-016-0315-x
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Schizophrenia is a heterogeneous, debilitating disorder characterized by three distinct sets of clinical features: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive deficits. Extant antipsychotic drugs have been most successful at treating the positive symptoms of patients with schizophrenia but have minimal therapeutic effects on negative symptoms and cognitive deficits, which are the symptoms that best predict the poor prognosis of these patients. Therefore, there has been a major effort towards identifying compounds that alleviate these symptoms. Oxytocin (OT) is a nonapeptide that regulates peripheral reproductive-relevant functions, and also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Converging evidence from both preclinical and clinical research suggests that OT may have therapeutic efficacy for the positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive deficits of schizophrenia. In the majority of the small, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials conducted to date, OT has shown particular promise in its potential to treat the intractable negative symptoms and social cognitive deficits exhibited by most of the patients with this debilitating disorder. In this leading article, we summarize the clinical evidence relevant to (1) endogenous OT and schizophrenia, and (2) the putative therapeutic effects of OT on each of the three clinical domains.

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