The role of central oxytocin in obsessive compulsive disorder and related normal behavior

James F. Leckman, Wayne K. Goodman, William G. North, Phillip B. Chappell, Lawrence H. Price, David L. Pauls, George M. Anderson, Mark A. Riddle, Christopher J. McDougle, Linda C. Barr, Donald J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Oxytocin (OT) is a neurosecretory nonapeptide synthesized in hypothalamic cells, which project to widely distributed sites in the CNS as well as the neurohypophysis. Central OT affects a variety of cognitive, grooming, affiliative, sexual, and reproductive behaviors in animals. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) includes a range of cognitive and behavioral symptoms that bear some relationship to dimensions of behavior associated with OT. Anecdotal data and a recently completed cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) study provide evidence that some forms of OCD are related to OT dysfunction. Based on these findings, we hypothesize: 1) that some forms of OCD are at the extreme end of a range of normal behaviors that are mediated by OT and related systems; and that 2) some normal cognitive, affiliative, and sexual behaviors contain elements that are similar to features of OCD. Alternative hypotheses are considered, and a series of predictions are presented concerning the relationship between central OT and the onset, course, treatment response, and response to challenge procedures seen in this form of OCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-749
Number of pages27
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1994


  • Behavioral effects
  • CNS administration
  • CSF studies
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Oxytocin (OT)
  • Pathogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of central oxytocin in obsessive compulsive disorder and related normal behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this