Saliva oxytocin measures do not reflect peripheral plasma concentrations after intranasal oxytocin administration in men


Oxytocin plays an important role in social behavior. Thus, there has been significant research interest for the role of the oxytocin system in several psychiatric disorders, and the potential of intranasal oxytocin administration to treat social dysfunction. Measurement of oxytocin concentrations in saliva are sometimes used to approximate peripheral levels of oxytocin; however, the validity of this approach is unclear. In this study, saliva and plasma oxytocin was assessed after two doses of Exhalation Delivery System delivered intranasal oxytocin (8 IU and 24 IU), intravenous oxytocin (1 IU) and placebo in a double-dummy, within-subjects design with men. We found that intranasal oxytocin (8 IU and 24 IU) administration increased saliva oxytocin concentrations in comparison to saliva oxytocin concentration levels after intravenous and placebo administration. Additionally, we found that saliva oxytocin concentrations were not significantly associated with plasma oxytocin concentrations after either intranasal or intravenous oxytocin administration. Altogether, we suggest that saliva oxytocin concentrations do not accurately index peripheral oxytocin after intranasal or intravenous oxytocin administration, at least in men. The data indicates that elevated oxytocin saliva levels after nasal delivery primarily reflect exogenous administered oxytocin that is cleared from the nasal cavity to the oropharynx, and is therefore a weak surrogate for peripheral blood measurements.

Hormones and Behavior