BACKGROUND: Debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia often persist after sustained treatment with atypical antipsychotics. To date, clozapine has been the most effective of the atypical antipsychotics; however, negative symptoms may persist, indicating a critical need to develop augmenting treatment approaches.
METHODS: A retrospective chart review evaluated outcomes for 5 young adult inpatients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia who were prescribed off-label oxytocin (OT; 10 IU/sublingual, 1 time per day, to 20 IU/sublingual, 3 times per day) after their therapeutic response to clozapine plateaued (dose range: 200 to 600 mg). The augmented treatment was well tolerated and continued for at least 1 year after discharge from the hospital, with continued outpatient follow-up by the treating psychiatrist. Evaluation included the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and clinical review based on both self and parent/guardian reports.
RESULTS: The augmentation of clozapine with sublingual OT in young adults with treatment-resistant schizophrenia appeared to reduce negative symptoms, maintain lowered positive symptoms, and increase occupational and social functioning (eg, return to work or school), as noted by family members.
CONCLUSIONS: Future controlled, prospective studies should investigate the possibility that OT can significantly reduce negative symptoms of chronic psychotic illnesses that are inadequately responsive to clozapine or other antipsychotic medications alone.