Department of Psychiatry faculty members Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., and Kevin Sanders, M.D., and collaborators recently published findings from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing the regulation of hormones implicated in the neuropathology of autism; namely oxytocin (OT) and cortisol. Corbett is Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Psychology, and Sanders is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, medical director of the Treatment & Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) and medical director of the Medical Exploration of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MEND) Clinic.
The study showed that oxytocin failed to act as a stress buffer in response to physiological challenge. While OT has been tied to the social ability of children with ASD, the diminished moderating effect of OT on cortisol may also play a contributory role in the heightened stress often observed in children with autism. The findings appear in "Comparing oxytocin and cortisol regulation in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, hydrocortisone challenge pilot study in children with autism and typical development" in the Journal of Neurodevelopment Disorders.