Comparing oxytocin and cortisol regulation in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, hydrocortisone challenge pilot study in children with autism and typical development
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show marked impairment in social functioning and poor adaptation to new and changing contexts, which may be influenced by underlying regulatory processes. Oxytocin (OT) and cortisol are key neuromodulators of biological and behavioral responses, show a synergistic effect, and have been implicated in the neuropathological profile in ASD. However, they are rarely investigated together. The purpose of the pilot study was to evaluate the relationship between cortisol and OT in children with ASD under baseline and physiological stress (hydrocortisone challenge) conditions. Arginine vasopressin (AVP), structurally similar to OT, was also examined.