Oxytocin and Animal Models for Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Shlomo Wagner
  • Hala Harony-NicolasEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 35)


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of complex neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by deficits in social communication and by repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, with no pharmacological treatments available to treat these core symptoms. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that powerfully regulates mammalian social behavior and has been shown to exert pro-social effects when administered intranasally to healthy human subjects. In the last decade, there has been a significant interest in using oxytocin to treat social behavior deficits in ASD. However, little attention has been paid to whether the oxytocin system is perturbed in subgroups of individuals with ASD and whether these individuals are likely to benefit more from an oxytocin treatment. This oversight may in part be due to the enormous heterogeneity of ASD and the lack of methods to carefully probe the OXT system in human subjects. Animal models for ASD are valuable tools to clarify the implication of the oxytocin system in ASD and can help determine whether perturbation in this system should be considered in future clinical studies as stratifying biomarkers to inform targeted treatments in subgroups of individuals with ASD. In this chapter, we review the literature on genetic- and environmental-based animal models for ASD, in which perturbations in the oxytocin system and/or the effect of oxytocin administration on the ASD-associated phenotype have been investigated.


ASD animal models Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Oxytocin 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sagol Department of NeurobiologyThe University of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Seaver Autism Center for Research and TreatmentIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA

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