Oxytocin infusion reduces repetitive behaviors in adults with autistic and asperger’s disorders

Eric Hollander, Sherie Novotny, Margaret Hanratty, Rona Yaffe, Concetta M. DeCaria, Bonnie R. Aronowitz, Serge Mosovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

509 Scopus citations


Autism is a neurodevelopmentaldisorder characterized by dysfunction in three core behavioraldomains: repetitive behaviors, social deficits, and language abnormalities. There is evidence that abnormalities exist in peptide systems, particularly the oxytocin system, inautism spectrum patients. Furthermore, oxytocin and the closely related peptide vasopressin are known to play a role in socialandrepetitive behaviors. This study examined the impact of oxytocin on repetitive behaviors in 15 adults with autism or Asperger's disordervia randomized double-blind oxytocin and placebo challenges. The primary outcome measure was an instrument rating six repetitivebehaviors: need to know, repeating, ordering, need to tell/ask, self-injury, and touching. Patients with autism spectrum disorders showed asignificant reduction in repetitive behaviors following oxytocin infusion in comparison to placebo infusion. Repetitive behavior in autismspectrum disorders may be related to abnormalities in the oxytocin system, and may be partially ameliorated by synthetic oxytocininfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-198
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Asperger's disorder
  • Autism
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Oxytocin
  • Peptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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