A Randomized Control Trial on Oxytocin as Adjunctive Therapy for the Treatment of Schizophrenia

Poster B67, Friday, October 21, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Giovanni de Girolamo1, Jessica Dagani1, Francesco M. Saviotti2, Sara Raimondi2; 1St. John of God Clinical Research Centre, Brescia, Italy, 2Department of Mental Health, ASST, Desenzano del Garda, Italy

Purpose: The aim of the study was to examine the effects of intranasal oxytocin as an add-on treatment on 32 patients with schizophrenia aged 18-45 with short-medium illness duration (<11 years). Materials and Methods: We conducted an 8-month randomized, double-blind, controlled trial with a crossover design. Patients were randomly assigned to either 40 International Units oxytocin once daily or a vehicle placebo group, in addition to their pre-study antipsychotic medication regimen. We conducted a multi-dimensional assessment including psychopathological, psychosocial and neuropsychological aspects. Results: Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores showed no significant differences in treatment effects between the experimental group and controls, and no treatment effects were shown in any of the clinical rating scales used in this study with the exception of some neuropsychological assessments. In fact, oxytocin improved performance on the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test compared with placebo. Moreover, in the Emotional Priming Paradigm task, oxytocin was associated to a significant reduction of reaction times in the recognition of happiness and anger and to the facilitation effect induced by a congruent prime. Finally, intranasal oxytocin did not affect any safety analysis, representing a safe treatment in a population of schizophrenic patients. Conclusions: In our trial, oxytocin did not add any significant beneficial effects to anti-psychotic treatment in terms of clinical symptoms, but showed beneficial effects on social cognition evaluations. Further research should focus on different ways to administer oxytocin, and investigate predictors which could identify subgroups of patients with different treatment responses to oxytocin.

Topic Area: Psychopharmacology

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