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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011 Jul;36(6):898-904. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.12.005. Epub 2011 Jan 3.

Oxytocin buffers cortisol responses to stress in individuals with impaired emotion regulation abilities.

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Department of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany.


Oxytocin facilitates stress regulation but little is known about individual differences in this effect. The present study investigates whether the effect of intranasal oxytocin on stress-contingent cortisol release differs between individuals with high vs. low emotional regulation abilities (ERA). In a double-blind study thirty-six healthy male students with either high or low ERA were randomly assigned to receive intranasally 24 IU oxytocin or placebo. Cortisol was measured at several times before and after a social stressor (public speaking). Individuals with impaired ERA showed a reduced cortisol response to stress after oxytocin but an increased cortisol response after placebo application. The results suggest that healthy individuals with low ERA benefit from intranasal oxytocin application. Neurobiological mechanisms potentially underlying the link between oxytocin, cortsiol and ERA are discussed against the background of a neuroendocrinological perspective on personality.

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