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Oxytocin Modulates Hippocampal Perfusion in People at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Cathy Davies, Yannis Paloyelis, Grazia Rutigliano, Marco Cappucciati, Andrea De Micheli, Valentina Ramella-Cravaro, Umberto Provenzani, Mathilde Antoniades, Gemma Modinos, Dominic Oliver, Daniel Stahl, Silvia Murguia, Fernando Zelaya, Paul Allen, Sukhi Shergill, Paul Morrison, Steve Williams, David Taylor, Philip McGuire, Paolo Fusar-Poli

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1309
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Early online date9 Jan 2019
Accepted/In press18 Dec 2018
E-pub ahead of print9 Jan 2019
Published9 Jan 2019


King's Authors


Preclinical and human studies suggest that hippocampal dysfunction is a key factor in the onset of psychosis. People at Clinical High Risk for psychosis (CHR-P) present with a clinical syndrome that can include social withdrawal and have a 20-35% risk of developing psychosis in the next 2 years. Recent research shows that resting hippocampal blood flow is altered in CHR-P individuals and predicts adverse clinical outcomes, such as non-remission/transition to frank psychosis. Previous work in healthy males indicates that a single dose of intranasal oxytocin has positive effects on social function and marked effects on resting hippocampal blood flow. The present study examined the effects of intranasal oxytocin on hippocampal blood flow in CHR-P individuals. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, 30 CHR-P males were studied using pseudo-continuous Arterial Spin Labelling on 2 occasions, once after 40IU intranasal oxytocin and once after placebo. The effects of oxytocin on left hippocampal blood flow were examined in a region-of-interest analysis of data acquired at 22-28 and at 30-36 minutes post-intranasal administration. Relative to placebo, administration of oxytocin was associated with increased hippocampal blood flow at both time points (p=.0056; p=.034), although the effect at the second did not survive adjustment for the effect of global blood flow. These data indicate that oxytocin can modulate hippocampal function in CHR-P individuals and therefore merits further investigation as a candidate novel treatment for this group.

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