Next Article in Journal
A Closer Look into the Role of Protein Tau in the Identification of Promising Therapeutic Targets for Alzheimer’s Disease
Previous Article in Journal
Visually Evoked Response Differences to Contrast and Motion in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Previous Article in Special Issue
High and Low Levels of an NTRK2-Driven Genetic Profile Affect Motor- and Cognition-Associated Frontal Gray Matter in Prodromal Huntington’s Disease
Article Menu
Issue 9 (September) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Brain Sci. 2018, 8(9), 161;

Social Cognition and Oxytocin in Huntington’s Disease: New Insights

Neurology Unit, Apuane Hospital, 54100 Massa-Carrara, Italy
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Department of Pharmacy, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 20 August 2018 / Accepted: 23 August 2018 / Published: 26 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights in Huntington's Disease)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1106 KB, uploaded 26 August 2018]   |  


This study is aimed at relating social cognition in Huntington’s Disease (HD) to plasma levels of the social hormone oxytocin (OT). Indeed, HD patients commonly display reduced social skills and OT is involved in bonding behavior and improved recognition of facial emotions. Twelve mild-symptomatic HD patients (stage II Shoulson & Fahn) and 11 gender/age matched controls (healthy controls, HC), without concurrent psychiatric disorders, were investigated at baseline (T0) for OT plasma levels and social cognition through an extensive battery of neuropsychological tests. Social cognition was also re-examined after two years (T1) in 8 of the 12 patients. Results showed a trend for reduced T0-OT levels in HD vs. HC, mean ± stardard deviation: 6.5 ± 2.4 vs. 9.9 ± 7.2 pg/mL, without reaching statistical significance. At T0, patients showed significantly lower performances than controls at the “Faux-Pas” and “Strange Stories” tests (p < 0.05; p < 0.01); a reduced perception of visual emotions (p < 0.01) and verbal stimuli (p < 0.01) was also reported, involving anger, fear, and sadness (p < 0.05; p < 0.01). Additionally, in the HD population, OT concentrations positively correlated with T1-performances at Neutral\Faux-Pas test (p < 0.05), whereas the cognitive Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores positively correlated with psychosocial perception at the “Strange Stories” and Karolinska Directed Emotional Faces (KDEF) tests (p < 0.05). This study, despite its limitations, supports correlations between OT and HD social cognition, suggesting a possible therapeutic use of this hormone. More subjects and additional body tissues/fluids, such as cerebrospinal fluid, should be investigated to confirm this hypothesis. View Full-Text
Keywords: Huntington’s Disease; oxytocin plasma levels; social cognition Huntington’s Disease; oxytocin plasma levels; social cognition

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Unti, E.; Mazzucchi, S.; Frosini, D.; Pagni, C.; Tognoni, G.; Palego, L.; Betti, L.; Miraglia, F.; Giannaccini, G.; Ceravolo, R. Social Cognition and Oxytocin in Huntington’s Disease: New Insights. Brain Sci. 2018, 8, 161.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Brain Sci. EISSN 2076-3425 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top