Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Effects of Oxytocin Nasal Spray on Social Affiliation

This study is ongoing, but not recruiting participants.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
MPRC, University of Maryland Identifier:
First received: April 17, 2008
Last updated: April 13, 2017
Last verified: April 2017

Schizophrenia is a complex and heritable disorder that encompasses several clinical symptom domains and functional impairments. Existing treatments of schizophrenia, although effective against positive symptoms, fail to benefit negative symptoms, the focus of the current protocol. One of the strategies of novel drug development depends on identifying heritable physiological deficits that mark the disease liability and are thought to occur along the causal pathway of negative symptoms. These heritable physiological deficits are often found in the biological relatives of schizophrenia proband; particularly those who have schizophrenia related personality styles [defined by schizophrenia spectrum personalities (SSP) in the diagnostic system], even though they do not have the full-blown illness. The current protocol will pilot a strategy of targeting biomarkers of negative symptoms using intranasal oxytocin in relatives of schizophrenia patients. The drug probe studies in such non-clinical sample have several advantages including the absence of other drug treatment that may modulate the response, and the lack of generalized deficits causing problems with task comprehension/engagement that may mute the therapeutic signal. In addition, finding of efficacy of the experimental drug on the target physiological deficit and the associated symptoms has clinical implications on its own rights. This is because about 25% of subjects with schizophrenia spectrum personality disorders experience serious functional impairments.

Oxytocin is an extensively used drug, which is well tolerated with few serious side effects. Several lines of evidence suggest its putative role in the treatment of negatives symptoms, particularly a lack of social drive and related symptoms.

Condition Intervention Phase
Drug: Oxytocin
Drug: Placebo
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor
Primary Purpose: Other
Official Title: Effects of Oxytocin Nasal Spray on Social Affiliation

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of Maryland:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Social Affiliation measured by Social Affiliative Role Play [ Time Frame: 2 hours ]
    In a videotaped session, research staff engages the participant in social interaction based on a role play. The tape is rated on social skills and on Positive and Negative Affect Scale.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Cognitive (memory and attention) [ Time Frame: 2 hours ]
    Oculomotor Delayed Response task and Continuous Performance task will be administered to examine the effects on working memory and attention.

Enrollment: 29
Study Start Date: October 2009
Estimated Study Completion Date: July 2018
Primary Completion Date: July 2015 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: 1
Drug: Oxytocin
24 IU oxytocin (or Placebo) in a total of 6 puffs (3 puffs per nostril)
Other Names:
  • Pitocin
  • Syntocinon
Placebo Comparator: 2 Drug: Placebo
Single dose (plus a booster dose) drug probe study using intranasal placebo

Detailed Description:
The current study will examine the effects of intranasal oxytocin on physiological/cognitive markers of negative symptoms in 24 participants with schizophrenia spectrum traits. Subjects will be tested in two one-day studies carried out at least a month apart. Subjects will receive a 24 IU dose of intranasal oxytocin (or placebo) followed by a battery of cognitive/neurophysiological tests administered 50 minutes later completed over the next 155 minutes. A second dose of the drug (oxytocin or placebo) will be administered 2 hours after the 1st in order to maintain therapeutic plasma levels and to complete all testing.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 64 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Male/Female subjects between ages of 18-64 years
  • The presence of 3 or more SSP symptoms (at least 2 of the SSP symptoms will be negative symptoms as defined by the schizoid traits)
  • The presence of visuo-spatial working memory impairment as defined by error in the oculomotor delayed response (ODR) task of more than 0.5 SD above the mean values in healthy control subjects
  • Relative of an individual with schizophrenia, schizo-affective, or schizophreniform disorder
  • Able to provide written informed consent. Females are excluded due to risk of discomfort and unblinding due to potential uterine cramps induced by oxytocin.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Subjects meeting criteria for a life-time diagnosis of any one of the DSM IV, Axis I psychotic disorders (exceptions being a single past episode of major depressive disorder with psychotic features or psychotic symptoms associated with substance abuse with the substance abuse ending 6-months prior to study participation) (this is for the SSP recruitment)
  • Subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for current alcohol or substance dependence (other than nicotine) within the last 6 months or DSM-IV criteria for alcohol or substance abuse (other than nicotine) within the last month
  • Medical conditions that preclude participation in drug trials or assessments of outcome measures (including significant brain, cardiac, liver, lung, endocrinological or metabolic disorders)
  • Received any investigational drug in the preceding four weeks.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00663039

United States, Maryland
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center
Catonsville, Maryland, United States, 21228
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Maryland
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Principal Investigator: L E Hong, M.D. University of Maryland
  More Information

Responsible Party: MPRC, L. Elliot Hong, M.D., University of Maryland Identifier: NCT00663039     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: HP-00043595
P50MH082999 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: April 17, 2008
Last Updated: April 13, 2017
Individual Participant Data  
Plan to Share IPD: No

Keywords provided by University of Maryland:
Eye movements

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
Mental Disorders
Reproductive Control Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs processed this record on April 28, 2017