Oxytocin, not just for mothers

I am in the process of writing a review on potential new targets for the treatment of Autism. Sincethe causes of Autism are currently a mystery I have come across a number of unconventional (at least to my thinking) approaches.  For example, I have been fascinated with some recent work published by Eric Hollander at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine showing that the hormone oxytocin can attenuate some of the core symptoms of the disease (doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.05.030). It appears that oxytocin is more and more being appreciated for its ability to act in the brain as a neuropeptide to affect social behaviour. One might guess this has to do its role in enhancing social attachment, for example the special bond felt between mother and child and between mother and father. Some speculate that it activates the “reward feedback” system in the brain, the same one that is activated by opiod drugs such as morphine.

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