A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Summer, 2016 | Number 3, Volume 30

Long-term oxytocin use may damage DNA

While research indicates that administering the hormone oxytocin to individuals with autism may promote social behavior, a new study raises concerns about its safety. 

Daniela Leffa and colleagues injected rats with three different doses of oxytocin or a placebo once a day for either 21 or 56 days. Then, using a technique called a comet assay, they assessed the status of the rats’ hippocampal DNA. The researchers detected significantly increased numbers of cells with DNA damage after 21 days, and said that DNA damage intensity was “significantly increased after both treatment lengths at most of the doses.” 

Leffa and colleagues say their findings indicate that additional clinical and preclinical studies evaluating the safety of long-term oxytocin administration are necessary.


“DNA damage after chronic oxytocin administration in rats: a safety yellow light?” Daniela D. Leffa, Francine Daumann, Adriani P. Damiani, Arlindo C. Afonso, Maria A. Santos, Thayara H. Pedro, Renan P. Souza, and Vanessa M. Andrade, Metabolic Brain Disease, August 2016 (online). Address: Daniela D. Leffa, Laboratório de Biologia Celular e Molecular, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências da Saúde, Unidade Acadêmica de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense (UNESC), Avenida Universitaria, 1105 Bloco S, Criciuma, SC 88806-100, Brazil, [email protected].