Abstract and Keywords
Experimental studies in rodents and humans show that the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin are important regulators of behaviors related to social interactions. Evidence for positive effects of oxytocin treatment on symptoms of psychiatric disorders characterized by impaired social functioning has emerged. Numerous studies report associations between various social behaviors, the risk of autism, and polymorphisms in OXTR and AVPR1A. This chapter provides an overview of these genetic association studies. Although many of the published findings are inconclusive and need replication in independent samples, the chapter concludes that variants of OXTR and AVPR1A seem to moderate individual variation in different aspects of social behavior. The challenges for future studies include replication of current findings, identification of the functional variants, and characterization of the neural mechanisms mediating the gene-behavior associations, as well as exploration of the pharmacogenetic potential of OXTR and AVPR1A in future clinical trials.
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