Oxytocin is a nonapeptide mammalian hormone, best known for its role in childbirth, parturition and lactation. It has been implicated in the control of social behaviors and relationships, such as monogamy or promiscuous behaviors. The putative involvement of oxytocin in schizophrenia was first postulated following several pioneer reports of oxytocin use in schizophrenia and observations of increased oxytocin levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of schizophrenic patients, although this latter finding has subsequently been challenged. More recently, oxytocin plasma levels have been found to be decreased in schizophrenic individuals, particularly in those exhibiting hyponatremic polydipsia and emotional dysregulation. Some authors report that intranasal oxytocin administration to schizophrenic patients may reduce symptomatology. The aim of the present paper was to review studies investigating symptomatology, social cognition and emotion recognition changes in DSM-IV-TR schizophrenic patients, after administration of intranasal oxytocin at different doses. Literature search was conducted in March, 2012. PubMed and Scopus databases were used to find studies for inclusion in the systematic review. Oxytocin may represent an important novel adjunctive treatment for patients with schizophrenia. However, some limitations of current studies cannot be overlooked and further investigations are certainly needed.
Keywords: Intranasal oxytocin, schizophrenia, social cognition, emotions, review.