Researchers have discovered an oxytocin deficiency in patients with vasopressin deficiency caused by a pituitary gland disease

For the first time, a team from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel have succeeded in demonstrating oxytocin deficiency in patients with a deficiency of vasopressin caused by a disease of the pituitary gland.

This finding has implications for potential new therapeutic approaches.

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and helps us bond with others.

Oxytocin is a natural hormone that manages key aspects of the female and male reproductive systems.

The love hormone is important for fostering:

  • Sexual arousal
  • Recognition
  • Trust
  • Romantic attachment
  • Parent-infant bonding

The hypothalamus makes oxytocin, but the posterior pituitary gland stores and releases it into your bloodstream.

The hormone can be released through touch, music and exercise.

What is oxytocin deficiency?

Oxytocin deficiency is when your body does not produce enough of the hormone.

Oxytocin deficiency can present in various ways, including:

  • Poor communication
  • Irritability and inability to feel affectionate
  • Heightened anxiety and fears
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Bigger appetite for sugary foods
  • Feeling little joy in life
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Aching muscles

What is vasopressin deficiency?

Oxytocin and vasopressin are both produced in the same brain area and have similar structures.

Patients with vasopressin deficiency experience excessive water loss and often need to drink large amounts to compensate.

Synthetic vasopressin treatment has side effects

Synthetic vasopressin treatment helps with physical symptoms.

However, many patients still experience the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Social interaction difficulties
  • Impaired emotional awareness

In conclusion, the study showed that oxytocin levels did not change in patients with vasopressin deficiency after a stimulation test with MDMA.

On the other hand, healthy individuals showed an 8.5 times increase.

This suggests impaired oxytocin production in patients with vasopressin deficiency, potentially explaining their symptoms.

man and woman on the beach at sunset, young couple talking near the sea, dating or friendship concept
Image: © anyaberkut | iStock

Therapeutic possibilities with oxytocin

Mirjam Christ-Crain, study leader and deputy head of endocrinology at the University Hospital, explains, “These results, therefore, prove for the first time that a clinically relevant oxytocin deficiency actually exists.”

‘This finding opens up new therapeutic possibilities and could also be interesting for other diseases such as autism’

“This finding opens up new therapeutic possibilities and could also be interesting for other diseases such as autism.”

Additionally, these results provide deeper insight into oxytocin as a key hormone for socio-emotional effects.

In the future, the Department of Clinical Research researchers want to investigate whether treatment with oxytocin can improve the psychological symptoms in patients with vasopressin deficiency.

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