Aim: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are described as
a continuum of severity gradient of autistic symptoms diffusing through particular
ASD diagnoses, however the biological correlates among individuals with the different
ASD diagnoses slightly or considerably differ. Oxytocin (OT) has been implicated
to play an important role in autism etiology. Lower OT levels have been previously
found in children with infantile autism, however in a group of high-functioning
autistic subjects, no differences have been shown compared to controls. Moreover,
whereas the opposite patterns of OT associations with social measures have been
found in children with infantile autism compared to healthy children, no associations
have been found in individuals with high-functioning autism. We aimed to find out
the plasma OT differences between separate group of children with Asperger syndrome
(AS) and healthy children and the associations of OT with particular autistic traits
in a group of children with AS. Methods: We included 9 children (m = 6, f = 3) with
AS at the age 9 to 12 years and 9 age- and gender-matched controls. OT levels were
analyzed by ELISA method. Autistic traits in children with AS were evaluated by
Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), child and adolescent
versions. Results: Children with AS had significantly lower plasma OT levels
compared to healthy children. We found the significant negative correlation of OT
level and AQ Attention to detail area score. Conclusion: In spite of the lower OT
level in children with AS, which is also previously found in children with infantile
autism, the pattern of OT associations with autistic traits more resembles the pattern
in non-autistic population. Our preliminary results support the hypothesis of continuum
within the ASD particular diagnoses in the terms of biological correlates.
Cite this paper
Husarova, V. , Lakatosova, S. , Pivovarciova, A. , Bakos, J. , Durdiakova, J. , Kubranska, A. and Ostatnikova, D. (2013) Brief report: Plasma oxytocin is lower in children with Asperger syndrome and associated with autistic trait attention to detail. Open Journal of Psychiatry
, 399-402. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2013.34043
 Carpenter, L.A., Soorya, L. and Halpern, D. (2009) Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism. Pediatric Annals, 38, 30-35.
 Spiker, D., Lotspeich, L.J., Dimiceli, S., Myers, R.M. and Risch, N. (2002) Behavioral phenotypic variation in autism multiplex families: Evidence for a continuous severity gradient. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 114, 129-136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.10188
 Yu, K.K., Cheung, C., Chua, S.E. and McAlonan, G.M. (2011) Can Asperger syndrome be distinguished from autism? An anatomic likelihood meta-analysis of mri studies. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience: JPN, 36, 412-421.
 Neumann, I.D. (2008) Brain oxytocin: A key regulator of emotional and social behaviours in both females and males. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20, 858-865.
 Stavropoulos, K.K. and Carver, L.J. (2013) Research review: Social motivation and oxytocin in autism-implications for joint attention development and intervention. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 54, 603-618.
 Modahl, C., Green, L., Fein, D., Morris, M., Waterhouse, L., Feinstein, C. and Levin, H. (1998) Plasma oxytocin levels in autistic children. Biological Psychiatry, 43, 270-277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0006-3223(97)00439-3
 Al-Ayadhi, L.Y. (2005) Altered oxytocin and vasopressin levels in autistic children in central Saudi Arabia. Neurosciences, 10, 47-50.
 Miller, M., Bales, K.L., Taylor, S.L., Yoon, J., Hostetler, C.M., Carter, C.S. and Solomon, M. (2013) Oxytocin and vasopressin in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Sex differences and associations with symptoms. Autism Research: Official Journal of the International Society for Autism Research, 6, 91-102.
 Hollander, E., Bartz, J., Chaplin, W., Phillips, A., Sumner, J., Soorya, L., Anagnostou, E. and Wasserman, S. (2007) Oxytocin increases retention of social cognition in autism. Biological Psychiatry, 61, 498-503.
 Hollander, E., Novotny, S., Hanratty, M., Yaffe, R., De-Caria, C.M., Aronowitz, B.R. and Mosovich, S. (2003) Oxytocin infusion reduces repetitive behaviors in adults with autistic and asperger’s disorders. Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 28, 193-198.
 Wermter, A.K., Kamp-Becker, I., Hesse, P., Schulte-Korne, G., Strauch, K. and Remschmidt, H. (2010) Evidence for the involvement of genetic variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (oxtr) in the etiology of autistic disorders on high-functioning level. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B, Neuropsychiatric Genetics: The Official Publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics, 153B, 629-639.
 Baron-Cohen, S., Hoekstra, R.A., Knickmeyer, R. and Wheelwright, S. (2006) The autism-spectrum quotient (aq)—Adolescent version. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 343-350.
 Auyeung, B., Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S. and Allison, C. (2008) The autism spectrum quotient: Children’s version (aq-child). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1230-1240.