Sex-specific effect of intranasal vasopressin, but not oxytocin, on emotional recognition and perception in schizophrenia patients

Boaz Bloch, Raz Levin, Limor Vadas, Idan Shalev, Salomon Israel, Florina Uzefovsky, Roni Granot, Rachel Bachner-Melman, Alon Reshef, Richard P. Ebstein, Ilana Kremer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Impairments in social behavior and cognition, such as the ability to identify others’ emotional state, are important features in schizophrenia. Arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OXT) are nonapeptides that influence social cognition and behavior. Previous studies have shown that the administration of intranasal AVP or OXT may affect the ability to recognize facial emotions and that the effects of intranasal AVP administration are sex specific. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a single dose of AVP or OXT on social cognition in patients with schizophrenia. The secondary objective of the study was to test for sexspecific effects of intranasal AVP and OXT administration on social cognition. Methods: In this double-blind, placebo-control, crossover study, 34 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder received a dose of AVP, OXT or placebo in three separate meetings. Forty-five minutes after administration, subjects performed three facial emotion recognition tasks, “Reading Mind in the Eyes” Test (RMET), the Face Emotion Identification Test (FACE-ID) and the Face Emotion Discrimination Test (FACE-DISCRIM). Thirty subjects completed all sessions and only their data were analyzed. Results: There were no significant main effects of hormone administration on the ability to recognize facial emotions between treatment conditions. However, AVP administration resulted in sex specific differences in emotion recognition in the FACE-ID task. Specifically, in men, AVP administration reduced the ability to recognize angry faces. In women, AVP administration reduced the ability to recognize sad faces and improved the ability to recognize fearful faces. Conclusions: These findings indicate that intranasal AVP may affect the recognition of facial emotions differently in men and women. Thus, AVP may increase the differences between men and women on social cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry
Volume56
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Bloch, B., Levin, R., Vadas, L., Shalev, I., Israel, S., Uzefovsky, F., Granot, R., Bachner-Melman, R., Reshef, A., Ebstein, R. P., & Kremer, I. (2019). Sex-specific effect of intranasal vasopressin, but not oxytocin, on emotional recognition and perception in schizophrenia patients. Israel Journal of Psychiatry, 56(1), 21-25.