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Schizophr Res. 2013 May;146(1-3):138-43. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.01.019. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Peripheral vasopressin but not oxytocin relates to severity of acute psychosis in women with acutely-ill untreated first-episode psychosis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.



In women with chronic schizophrenia, higher levels of peripheral oxytocin have been associated with lower levels of positive but not negative symptoms. Sex-specific associations between endogenous levels of oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) with clinical symptoms and cognition in untreated early course patients have not been examined.


Clinical ratings and neuropsychological testing were performed in thirty-eight acutely ill, unmedicated first-episode schizophrenia patients (14 women, 24 men). Serum hormone assays were obtained in patients and thirty-eight demographically similar healthy controls.


Patients demonstrated increased AVP levels compared to controls (p = 0.01). Higher AVP levels were associated with greater positive symptoms (r = 0.58, p = 0.03) and worse verbal learning (r = -0.63, p = 0.02) in female, but not male, patients. OT levels did not statistically differ between patients and controls, and were unrelated to clinical symptoms or cognition in patients.


Results suggest an association of endogenous AVP with increased positive symptom severity and worse cognition in untreated female, but not male, schizophrenia patients. Findings support the role of neuroendocrine alterations in acute psychosis and the importance of examining sex-specific neuroendocrine alterations early in the course of schizophrenia.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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