Oxytocin and serotonin in the modulation of neural function: Neurobiological underpinnings of autism-related behavior

Front Neurosci. 2022 Jul 22;16:919890. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.919890. eCollection 2022.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a group of generalized neurodevelopmental disorders. Its main clinical features are social communication disorder and repetitive stereotyped behavioral interest. The abnormal structure and function of brain network is the basis of social dysfunction and stereotyped performance in patients with autism spectrum disorder. The number of patients diagnosed with ASD has increased year by year, but there is a lack of effective intervention and treatment. Oxytocin has been revealed to effectively improve social cognitive function and significantly improve the social information processing ability, empathy ability and social communication ability of ASD patients. The change of serotonin level also been reported affecting the development of brain and causes ASD-like behavioral abnormalities, such as anxiety, depression like behavior, stereotyped behavior. Present review will focus on the research progress of serotonin and oxytocin in the pathogenesis, brain circuit changes and treatment of autism. Revealing the regulatory effect and neural mechanism of serotonin and oxytocin on patients with ASD is not only conducive to a deeper comprehension of the pathogenesis of ASD, but also has vital clinical significance.

Keywords: autism; neural circuitry; neural mechanisms; oxytocin; serotonin.

Publication types

  • Review