Effects of intranasal oxytocin on social anxiety in males with fragile X syndrome

30 Aug

There have been a few papers in the recent past on oxytocin and autism. Oxytocin is a hormone and is considered to have a rule in social cognition. Fragile-X is a syndrome which results in autism or autistic-like symptoms. As such, it isn’t surprising that someone has looked into oxytocin and Fragile-X.

This study comes out of Stanford University. Effects of intranasal oxytocin on social anxiety in males with fragile X syndrome. It is very small with only 10 subjects starting the study (only 8 completed the study). Eye contact is tracked. This is not what I would consider a great parameter to track, but it is measurable. In addition, heart rate and salivary cortisol were monitored. These are measures of excitability/anxiety. They found no effect on heart rate and some other measures. Cortisol levels went down and eye contact went up.

Again, it is small study so it is difficult to

Here is the abstract:

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a rare inherited genetic disorder causing severe intellectual disability and autistic-like symptoms. Individuals with FXS, males in particular, often exhibit extreme eye gaze avoidance and hyperarousal when they encounter stressful social situations. We investigated whether oxytocin (OT), a hormone with prosocial and anxiolytic effects, could alleviate symptoms of social anxiety in this population. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled single-dose trial was performed with intranasal administration of placebo, 24IU OT and 48IU OT. Measures of eye gaze frequency, heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), heart rate variability (HRV) and salivary cortisol were obtained during a structured social challenge conducted 50min following OT administration. Ten low-functioning males with FXS (aged 13-28 years) traveled to Stanford for the initial visit: 8 completed the study. Eye gaze frequency improved significantly in response to the 24IU OT dose and salivary cortisol levels decreased significantly in response to the 48IU OT dose. There was no effect of OT on heart rate, RSA or HRV although individual plots of the heart rate data suggested that OT increased heart rate in some participants and decreased heart rate in others. These findings suggest that intranasal administration of OT may ameliorate some symptoms of social anxiety in patients with FXS. Further double-blind placebo-controlled studies of OT, conducted in combination with behavioral treatment programs, may be warranted

2 Responses to “Effects of intranasal oxytocin on social anxiety in males with fragile X syndrome”


  1. Autism Blog – Effects of intranasal oxytocin on social anxiety in … | My Autism Site | All About Autism - August 31, 2011

    […] Link: Autism Blog – Effects of intranasal oxytocin on social anxiety in … […]

  2. Healthy Life Style | How To Successfully Manage Social Anxiety In Any kind of Situation | Healthy Lifestyle / Healthy Abundant Living - October 18, 2011

    […] Style in under 30 days. Awesome! Take Care, The Healthy Abundant Living Team | Healthy Life StyleSocial anxiety is an issue that possibly everybody experiences at some time or another and it can re…nnone size-medium wp-image-371"rel="no follow" title="dreamstimefree_1701878" […]

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