OBJECTIVE: Some studies have reported an inverse relationship between childhood adversity and oxytocin levels. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between CSF and plasma oxytocin levels and lifetime trauma history in suicide attempters. We hypothesised lower CSF and plasma oxytocin levels in suicide attempters with high exposure to interpersonal violence and negative childhood emotional climate.
METHODS: 28 medication free suicide attempters participated in the study. CSF and plasma morning basal levels of oxytocin were assessed with specific radioimmunoassays. The Karolinska Interpersonal Violence Scale (KIVS) was used to elicit lifetime trauma history and revictimization status and the childhood emotional climate factor was derived from the socialization subscale of the Karolinska Scales of Personality.
RESULTS: Correlations between exposure to interpersonal violence as a child and as an adult and CSF and plasma oxytocin levels were not significant. Revictimized suicide attempters had significantly lower plasma oxytocin levels and more negative childhood emotional climate compared to non-revictimized suicide attempters.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate a complex relationship between life time trauma and the oxytocin system.