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Endogenous Oxytocin Levels in Autism-A Meta-Analysis.

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Oxytocin (OT) circuitry plays a major role in the mediation of prosocial behavior. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication and have been suggested to display deficiencies in central OT mechanisms. The current preregistered meta-analysis evaluated potential group differences in endogenous OT levels between individuals with ASD and neurotypical (NT) controls. We included 18 studies comprising a total of 1422 participants. We found that endogenous OT levels are lower in children with ASD as compared to NT controls (n = 1123; g = -0.60; p = 0.006), but this effect seems to disappear in adolescent (n = 152; g = -0.20; p = 0.53) and adult populations (n = 147; g = 0.27; p = 0.45). Secondly, while no significant subgroup differences were found in regard to sex, the group difference in OT levels of individuals with versus without ASD seems to be only present in the studies with male participants (n = 814; g = -0.44; p = 0.08) and not female participants (n = 192; g = 0.11; p = 0.47). More research that employs more homogeneous methods is necessary to investigate potential developmental changes in endogenous OT levels, both in typical and atypical development, and to explore the possible use of OT level measurement as a diagnostic marker of ASD.
Journal: Brain Sciences
ISSN: 2076-3425
Issue: 11
Volume: 11
Pages: 1545