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Oxford University Press (OUP), Schizophrenia Bulletin: The Journal of Psychoses and Related Disorders, 6(45), p. 1279-1290, 2019

DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbz016



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Reduced DNA Methylation of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene Is Associated With Anhedonia-Asociality in Women With Recent-Onset Schizophrenia and Ultra-high Risk for Psychosis

This paper was not found in any repository, but could be made available legally by the author.
This paper was not found in any repository, but could be made available legally by the author.

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Abstract Negative symptoms are recognized as a fundamental feature of schizophrenia throughout the disease course. Epigenetic alterations in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) may be a key mechanism involved in social-emotional disturbances of schizophrenia. Here, we investigated OXTR methylation and its association with clinical and brain network connectivity phenotypes of negative symptoms, particularly anhedonia-asociality, in individuals with recent-onset schizophrenia (ROS) and at ultrahigh risk (UHR) for psychosis. Sixty-four ROS (39 women), 46 UHR (19 women), and 98 healthy individuals (52 women) participated in this study. OXTR methylation was quantified using the pyrosequencing method. A subset of participants (16 ROS, 23 UHR, and 33 healthy controls [HCs]) underwent a 5.5-minute resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine the relationship between OXTR methylation and the striatal-amygdala network functional connectivity (FC) underlying anhedonia-asociality. Both men and women with ROS and UHR showed significantly decreased OXTR methylation compared to HCs. In women with ROS and UHR, decreased OXTR methylation showed a significant correlation with increased anhedonia-asociality. FC of the striatal-amygdala network, positively associated with the severity of anhedonia-asociality, showed an inverse correlation with OXTR methylation. This study suggests that epigenetic alterations of OXTR, which can be detected before the development of full-blown psychosis, confer susceptibility to schizophrenia and play a crucial role in the manifestation of anhedonia-asociality, particularly in women.