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).

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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.

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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.

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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