Socializing with oxytocin

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have demonstrated how the neuropeptide hormone if administered early in the lives of laboratory mice with autism spectrum disorder, ASD, can behave socially in the same was as non-ASD controls. "The oxytocin system is a key mediator of social behavior in mammals, including humans, for maternal behavior, mother-infant bonding, and social memory," explains Daniel Geschwind. He and colleagues previously developed a mouse model for ASD by knocking out the CNTNAP2 gene (contactin-associated protein-like 2), which plays an important role in the parts of the brain responsible for language and speech. Using this model the team found that the effects of early administration of oxytocin persisted into adolescence and adulthood in the mice. The researchers provide details in the journal Science Translational Medicine, which may one day offer hope of a treatment for this aspect of ASD.