Social anxiety is associated with greater peripheral oxytocin reactivity to psychosocial stress

Benjamin A. Tabak, David Rosenfield, Cecile S. Sunahara, Talha Alvi, Angela Szeto, Armando J. Mendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To date, it has been difficult to establish reliable biomarkers associated with specific forms of psychopathology. Social anxiety, for example, is associated with inconsistent biological responses to psychosocial stress on markers including cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase. Thus, it is critical that studies identify more reliable biomarkers that index patterns associated with social anxiety. Two potential candidates are the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin, which have been implicated in stress responsivity across species. Studies have demonstrated a reliable increase in oxytocin, and a surrogate marker for vasopressin, following engagement in the most widely used lab-based psychosocial stress paradigm: the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). However, no study has examined whether social anxiety moderates peripheral oxytocin or vasopressin reactivity to psychosocial stress. In 101 young adult participants, dimensionally assessed social anxiety was associated with greater plasma oxytocin, but not vasopressin, reactivity to the TSST. Results were maintained following the inclusion of depression as a covariate. Findings suggest that studying changes in peripheral oxytocin concentrations may be a method of differentiating individuals with higher levels of social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105712
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume140
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Endogenous
  • Oxytocin
  • Social anxiety
  • Stress
  • Trier Social Stress Test
  • Vasopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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