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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007 May;32(4):407-10. Epub 2007 Mar 23.

Plasma oxytocin levels and anxiety in patients with major depression.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Liège, Psychoneuroendocrinology Unit, CHU of Liège, B35, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.


Cerebrospinal fluid and plasmatic levels of oxytocin (OT) have been found to change in mood disorders. In post-mortem studies, the numbers of OT-expressing neurons in the paraventricular nucleus have been reported to be increased. Moreover, OT is considered as an endogenous antistress hormone. It has also revealed antidepressive effects. OT may contribute to the dysregulation of the HPA system in major depression. The aim of the study was to assess a possible relationship between anxiety and plasma oxytocin (OT) levels in depressive patients. Severity of depression was estimated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and anxiety by using the Spielberger State-Anxiety Inventory. Results showed a significant negative correlation between oxytocin and the scored symptoms depression (r=-0.58, p=0.003) and anxiety (r=-0.61, p=0.005).

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