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Low oxytocin levels, increased psychopathology seen in hypopituitary men with diabetes insipidus

27 Jun 2019

Hypopituitary men with central diabetes insipidus (CDI) have low plasma oxytocin levels and increased psychopathology, which suggests a potential oxytocin deficiency, according to a study.

“We hypothesized that men with CDI, compared to patients with similar anterior pituitary deficiencies (APD) but no CDI and healthy controls (HC) of similar age and body mass index, would have lower plasma OT levels associated with increased psychopathology,” the investigators said.

This cross-sectional study in a clinical research centre included 62 men (20 with CDI, 20 with APD and 22 HC) aged 18–60 years. Frequent sampling of blood every 5 min for oxytocin over 1 hour was performed, and validated questionnaires were handed out to assess psychopathology.

Main outcomes included pooled plasma oxytocin levels, quality of life, and depressive, anxiety and alexithymia symptoms.

There was a lower mean 1-hour pool of fasting oxytocin levels in CDI compared with APD and HC (p=0.02 and p=0.009, respectively), with no differences seen between APD and HC (p=0.78). Men with CDI had more pronounced symptoms of depression (p=0.001), anxiety (p=0.004) and alexithymia (p=0.02) relative to HC.

Men with CDI and APD reported worse physical healthy than HC (p=0.001 and p=0.005, respectively), with no differences seen between APD and CDI. However, only the CDI group reported worse mental health compared with the HC group (p=0.009).

Larger studies of both sexes are warranted to confirm these findings and to characterize hypopituitary patients with oxytocin deficiency, according to the investigators.

“Oxytocin and vasopressin share anatomical pathways of synthesis and secretion, and patients with CDI presumably are at risk for oxytocin deficiency,” they noted.

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