A review of clinical trials of oxytocin in Prader-Willi syndrome

Lauren J. Rice, Stewart L. Einfeld, Nan Hu, C. Sue Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of review PWS is a severe developmental disability for which there is no known treatment. The oxytocin system is currently a primary target for intervention. The aim of this article is to review the evidence for the efficacy of intranasal oxytocin in PWS. Recent findings To date, there have been five clinical trials of oxytocin in PWS. Four of these studies reported that oxytocin improved behaviors. However, each of these studies suffered important limitations that likely influenced the findings. For example, one study did not include a control group. Another study did not statistically analyze the effects of oxytocin on behavior. The final two studies used study-specific measures for which psychometric properties have not been assessed. Summary Because of these limitations, the most appropriate conclusion to draw from the existing studies is that there is currently no convincing evidence that intranasal oxytocin improves symptoms of PWS. However, this does not mean that oxytocin is not involved in PWS. Rather, it suggests that further work is needed to understand the nature of the PWS oxytocin abnormality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-127
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • clinical trials
  • oxytocin
  • Prader-Willi syndrome

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