Opportunities and challenges for intranasal oxytocin treatment studies in nonhuman primates

Am J Primatol. 2018 Oct;80(10):e22913. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22913. Epub 2018 Oct 3.


Nonhuman primates provide a human-relevant experimental model system to explore the mechanisms by which oxytocin (OT) regulates social processing and inform its clinical applications. Here, we highlight contributions of the nonhuman primate model to our understanding of OT treatment and address unique challenges in administering OT to awake behaving primates. Prior preclinical research utilizing macaque monkeys has demonstrated that OT can modulate perception of other individuals and their expressions, attention to others, imitation, vigilance to social threats, and prosocial decisions. We further describe ongoing efforts to develop an OT delivery system for use in experimentally naïve juvenile macaque monkeys compatible with naturalistic social behavior outcomes. Finally, we discuss future directions to further develop the rhesus monkey as a preclinical test bed to evaluate the effects of OT exposure and advance efforts to translate basic science OT research into safe and effective OT therapies.

Keywords: delivery; oxytocin; rhesus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal / instrumentation
  • Administration, Intranasal / methods*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta*
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage*
  • Oxytocin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Social Behavior


  • Oxytocin