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Supplementary Material for: Infrequent Intranasal Oxytocin Followed by Positive Social Interaction Improves Symptoms in Autistic Children: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial

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posted on 11.05.2022, 11:10 by Le J., Zhang L., Zhao W., Zhu S., Lan C., Kou J., Zhang Q., Zhang Y., Li Q., Chen Z., Fu M., Montag C., Zhang R., Yang W., Becker B., Kendrick K.M.
Introduction: There are currently no approved drug interventions for social behavior dysfunction in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous trials investigating effects of daily intranasal oxytocin treatment have reported inconsistent results and have not combined it with positive social interaction. However, in two preclinical studies we established that treatment every other day rather than daily is more efficacious in maintaining neural and behavioral effects by reducing receptor desensitization. Objective: We aimed to establish whether a 6-week intranasal oxytocin compared with placebo treatment, followed by a period of positive social interaction, would produce reliable symptom improvements in children with ASD. Methods: A pilot double-blind, randomized, crossover design trial was completed including 41 children with ASD aged 3–8 years. Primary outcomes were the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2) and social responsivity scale-2 (SRS-2). Secondary measures included cognitive, autism- and caregiver-related questionnaires, and social attention assessed using eye-tracking. Results: Significant improvements were found for oxytocin relative to placebo in primary outcome measures (total ADOS-2 and SRS-2 scores, ps < 0.001) and in behavioral adaptability and repetitive behavior secondary measures. Altered SRS-2 scores were associated with increased saliva oxytocin concentrations. Additionally, oxytocin significantly increased time spent viewing dynamic social compared to geometric stimuli and the eyes of angry, happy, and neutral expression faces. There were no adverse side effects of oxytocin treatment. Conclusions: Overall, results demonstrate that a 6-week intranasal oxytocin treatment administered every other day and followed by positive social interactions can improve clinical, eye tracking, and questionnaire-based assessments of symptoms in young autistic children.