4 years ago

Intranasal oxytocin in the treatment of anorexia nervosa: Randomized controlled trial during re-feeding

Intranasal oxytocin in the treatment of anorexia nervosa: Randomized controlled trial during re-feeding
Nutritional rehabilitation in anorexia nervosa (AN) is impeded by fear of food, eating and change leading to treatment resistance. Oxytocin (OT) exerts prosocial effects and modulates trust, fear, anxiety and neuroplasticity. The current placebo-controlled RCT examined the effects of intranasal oxytocin (IN-OT) in AN. The aim was to ascertain whether repeated doses of IN-OT enhance treatment outcomes in AN. Methods AN patients self-administered 36 IU IN-OT or placebo daily for 4–6 weeks during hospital treatment. The outcome measures were change in the Eating Disorders Examination (EDE) scale, weight gain, cognitive rigidity, social anxiety, obsessive and autistic symptoms. The effects of the first and last doses of IN-OT were assessed relative to placebo before and after a high-energy afternoon snack, to determine potential dampening of cortisol and anxiety levels by OT. Results Weight gain was similar in both groups. The EDE eating concern subscale score was significantly lower after IN-OT treatment as was cognitive rigidity. There were no significant differences in social anxiety or any of the other outcomes at follow-up. After four weeks IN-OT, salivary cortisol levels were significantly lowered in anticipation of an afternoon snack compared to placebo. Morning plasma OT levels did not change after chronic IN-OT or with weight restoration. Conclusion IN-OT might enhance nutritional rehabilitation in AN by reducing eating concern and cognitive rigidity. Lower salivary cortisol levels in response to IN-OT suggest diminished neuroendocrine stress responsiveness to food and eating. Such effects require replication with inclusion of more sensitive subjective measures.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0306453017306340

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