Men with central diabetes insipidus (CDI) have reduced plasma oxytocin levels and increased psychopathology, according to study results published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The results suggest that men with CDI may have oxytocin deficiency.
Researchers conducted a pilot study to investigate oxytocin deficiency and psychopathology in patients with hypopituitarism. The study included men age 18 to 60 years (mean age, 44.5 years) with CDI (n = 20), similar anterior pituitary deficiencies but no CDI (n = 20), and healthy controls (n = 22). The researchers sampled participants’ blood every 5 minutes over a 1-hour period to measure oxytocin levels. Patients completed validated questionnaires to determine psychopathology, including the Beck Depression Inventory-IA, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Toronto Alexithymia Scale. The primary outcomes were pooled plasma oxytocin levels; depressive, anxiety, and alexithymia symptoms; and quality of life.
Participants with CDI had lower mean 1-hour pooled fasting oxytocin levels compared with participants with anterior pituitary deficiencies (P =.02) and healthy controls (P =.009). There was no significant difference in oxytocin levels between patients with anterior pituitary deficiencies and controls (P =.78).
The researchers found that participants with CDI had more pronounced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and alexithymia than controls (P =.001, P =.004, and P =.02, respectively). Participants with anterior pituitary deficiencies, however, did not show differences in depression, anxiety, or alexithymia compared with healthy controls.
Patients with CDI and anterior pituitary deficiencies reported worse physical health compared with controls (P =.001 and P =.005, respectively). There was no difference in reported physical health scores between participants with CDI and participants with anterior pituitary deficiencies.
“Studies examining the safety and efficacy of [oxytocin] replacement will be important before [oxytocin] is clinically prescribed in this population,” the researchers wrote.
Aulinas A, Plessow F, Asanza E, et al. Low plasma oxytocin levels and increased psychopathology in hypopituitary men with diabetes insipidus [published online March 18, 2019]. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-02608