The role of oxytocin in the pathogenesis and treatment of schizophrenia

Katarzyna Jusiak 1 , Żaneta Brudkowska 2 , Maria Gołębiowska 3 , Justyna Morylowska-Topolska 2 , Beata Gołębiowska 3 , Michał Próchnicki 2 , Agnieszka Próchnicka 4 ,  and Hanna Karakuła-Juchnowicz 1
  • 1 I Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Early Intervention, Medical University of Lublin
  • 2 Department of Clinical Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Lublin
  • 3 Department of Pediatric Neurology, III Chair of Pediatrics, Medical University of Lublin
  • 4 Institute of Pedagogy of the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin,

Abstract

Introduction: Until recently, oxytocin was mainly associated with the pathophysiology of childbirth and sexual functions, but lately this hormone has become the object of interest to psychiatry and psychology due to the significant influence of oxytocin on human behavior in the field of social and emotional functioning. Current scientific research focuses on the participation of oxytocin in the pathogenesis and therapy of mental disorders.

Aim: The aim of the paper is to present, on the basis of available literature, the significance of oxytocin for various psychological functions, with particular emphasis on the influence of oxytocin on the course and clinical picture of schizophrenia.

Method: Available articles from the Medline / PubMed database were analyzed, which were searched using keywords: oxytocin, schizophrenia, therapeutic use of oxytocin, social cognition, positive symptoms, negative symptoms and time descriptors: 2013-2017. There are included articles published in Polish and English.

Results:The research results carried out so far suggest that oxytocin plays a significant role in modulating complex socio-emotional behaviors in schizophrenic patients. The existing research results also indicate a relationship between the dysregulation of the oxytocinergic system and the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Many of the studies prove that there is a relationship between the level of oxytocin in the patients' blood plasma and the severity of the disease symptoms. Recent genetic studies indicate a possible relationship between polymorphism of oxytocin genesand polymorphism of oxytocin receptor genes and the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Conclusions: Contemporary research on the therapeutic potential of oxytocin and its influence on the functioning of schizophrenia patients seem to be very promising and may contribute to increasing the effectiveness of treatment of schizophrenia and possibly other mental disorders, which in turn will improve the quality of life of patients in cognitive, social and emotional functioning.

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