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Anxiety and mood disorders are prevalent, disabling, and frequently difficult to treat. Such disorders are often comorbid and share similar characteristics. For more accurate diagnosis and improved treatment, a deeper understanding of the pathophysiology of anxiety and mood disorders is important. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide synthesized in the hypothalamus, affects human psychology and behaviors such as social and affiliative behaviors, fear and emotion processing, and stress regulation. Thus, oxytocin is believed to exert anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects. This review article provides an overview of clinical studies on relationships between the oxytocin system and anxiety and mood disorders, focusing on oxytocin-related biomarker findings. Biomarkers used in such studies include central and peripheral oxytocin levels, analysis of oxytocin-related genes, and expression levels of oxytocin and oxytocin receptor genes in postmortem brains. Although a growing number of studies support the presence of oxytocinergic effects on anxiety and mood disorders, study results are heterogeneous and inconclusive. Moderating factors such as the characteristics of study populations, including sex, age, context, early life adversity, and attachment styles in patient cohorts, might affect the heterogeneity of the study results. Limitations in existing research such as small sample sizes, large dependence on peripheral sources of oxytocin, and inconsistent results between immunoassay methods complicate the interpretation of existing findings. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Seoyoung Yoon, Yong-Ku Kim. Possible oxytocin-related biomarkers in anxiety and mood disorders. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 2022 Jun 08;116:110531

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PMID: 35150782

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