There is a need for effective, early post-trauma preventive interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Attenuating amygdala hyperreactivity early post-trauma, a likely PTSD vulnerability factor, may decrease PTSD risk. Since oxytocin modulates amygdala reactivity to emotional stimuli, oxytocin administration early post-trauma may be a promising candidate for PTSD prevention. In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled fMRI study, we investigated effects of a single intranasal oxytocin administration (40 IU) on amygdala reactivity to happy, neutral and fearful faces in 41 recently trauma-exposed men and women showing moderate to high distress after initial post-trauma screening. We explored treatment interactions with sex. Participants were scanned within 11 days post-trauma. Compared with placebo, oxytocin significantly increased right amygdala reactivity to fearful faces. There was a significant treatment by sex interaction on amygdala reactivity to neutral faces, with women showing increased left amygdala reactivity after oxytocin. These findings indicate that a single oxytocin administration may enhance fearful faces processing in recently trauma-exposed individuals and neutral faces processing in recently trauma-exposed women. These observations may be explained by oxytocin-induced increased salience processing. Clinical implications of these findings for PTSD prevention should be further investigated.
|Journal||Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2016|