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Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience

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Oxytocin receptor polymorphisms and attachment style in patients with cognitive impairment and affective symptoms

Author(s): Olivier Tible* and Armin von Gunten

BACKGROUND: Behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPS) occur frequently in patients with dementia. Many reviews have highlighted that BPS can be influenced by the subject’s personal attachment style (AS). Then, recent studies have found that oxytocin (OT) appears as a marker of emotional intensity and attachment. Our approach is based on 2 hypotheses: a) OT should decrease in MCI (mild cognitive impairment) patients, b) there are correlations between affective BPS, insecure AS and OT receptor polymorphisms.

METHODS: The present study assessed both OT blood levels and OT receptor polymorphisms (OTrx) in MCI patients. 9 MCI subjects and 8 controls are included. AS, BPS and depression were assessed using standardized scales. OTrx were determined using PCR.

RESULTS: All MCI patients showed an inhibited attachment style profile in one’s relationship to a parent. Insecure AS and OTrx were found in the two MCI patients presenting with the most severe affective BPS.

CONCLUSION: These results are in favour of our hypotheses (OTrx rs53576 and insecure AS are found in patients with severe BPS). Then, we found an inhibited attachment profile in patients with MCI, but it must be confirmed in the future, with a large sample of subjects. On one hand, our experiment can be used to make the study possible for a larger number of subjects. On the other hand, the need of a longitudinal study has to be done.


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