Plasma Oxytocin Linked To Female Fibromyalgia Symptoms

By David Loshak

The neuropeptide oxytocin, together with other neuropeptides and
neurotransmitters, may help to integrate the stress axes, monoaminergic
systems and pain processing peptides in the pathophysiological mechanisms
responsible for symptoms in fibromyalgia syndrome.

Researchers at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute and other Swedish
institutions draw this conclusion from a study to assess oxytocin
concentrations in female fibromyalgia syndrome patients with different
hormonal status and in depressed and non-depressed patients.

The study also aimed to relate oxytocin concentrations to happiness and to
such adverse symptoms as pain, stress, depression and anxiety.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic pain disorder, which affects women in 90
percent of cases. The neuropeptide oxytocin is known to have antinociceptive
and analgesic, as well as anxiolytic and antidepressant effects.

The study recruited 39 patients and 30 controls who registered symptoms
daily for 28 days. Blood samples to assess oxytocin were drawn twice in all

Besides the daily ratings, depression was also estimated using the
self-rating Beck Depression Inventory. Patients who were depressed according
to this measure had lower oxytocin levels than did non-depressed patients
and controls.

Likewise, according to the daily ratings, patients with high scores for
pain, stress and depression had low oxytocin levels, but these subgroups
were small.

There was a negative correlation between the scored symptoms of depression
and anxiety and the oxytocin concentration. There was a positive correlation
between happiness and oxytocin concentration.

Oxytocin concentrations did not differ between the hormonally different
subgroups of patients or controls.

Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie 2000; 59(6): 373-379. "Plasma oxytocin levels
in female fibromyalgia syndrome patients"

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