Effect of Oxytocin on Stress in Marijuana Users

This study is ongoing, but not recruiting participants.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Aimee McRae-Clark, Medical University of South Carolina
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:
First received: April 8, 2011
Last updated: April 2, 2013
Last verified: April 2013

The purpose of this study is to evaluate how people who frequently use marijuana respond to a stressful task, and if a medication (oxytocin) affects this response.

Condition Intervention
Marijuana Dependence
Drug: Oxytocin
Drug: Saline

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Effect of Oxytocin on Stress Response in Marijuana-dependent Individuals

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Medical University of South Carolina:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Stress (as measured by cortisol and subjective report) [ Time Frame: During test procedure (approximately 5 hours) ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Craving (as measured by the Marijuana Craving Questionnaire) [ Time Frame: During test procedure (approximately five hours) ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Estimated Enrollment: 40
Study Start Date: March 2011
Estimated Study Completion Date: July 2013
Estimated Primary Completion Date: July 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: Oxytocin
intranasal administration
Drug: Oxytocin
40 IUs
Other Name: Pitocin
Placebo Comparator: saline
intranasal administration
Drug: Saline
40 IUs

Detailed Description:

Stress is commonly associated with drug craving and relapse in substance-dependent individuals. Several studies indicate that hypothalamic neuropeptides may mediate behavioral response to stress. For example, preclinical and clinical investigations have indicated that the neuropeptide oxytocin exerts anxiolytic effects in stress paradigms. Several studies have indicated that oxytocin promotes trust, social bonding, and calmness; however, little is known about the potential anxiolytic affects of oxytocin in marijuana-dependent individuals. A preclinical study investigating the effects and mechanism of lithium on cannabinoid withdrawal in rats had positive findings, with increasing oxytocin levels hypothesized to moderate this effect (Cui et al, 2001). Given the anxiolytic nature of oxytocin, it may have a therapeutic role in ameliorating the negative affect commonly observed prior to relapse in marijuana-dependent individuals, as well as the anxiety associated with marijuana withdrawal. This pilot protocol will provide important preliminary data on the effect of oxytocin on stress in marijuana-dependent individuals.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 65 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Subjects must be able to provide informed consent and function at an intellectual level sufficient to allow accurate completion of all assessment instruments.
  • Subjects must meet DSM-IV criteria for current marijuana dependence (within the past three months). While individuals may also meet criteria for abuse of other substances, they must identify marijuana as their primary substance of abuse and must not meet criteria for dependence on any other substance (except nicotine) within the last 60 days.
  • Subjects must consent to remain abstinent from all drugs of abuse (except nicotine and marijuana) for a three-day period immediately prior to the CTRC admission. Subjects must abstain from marijuana for 24 hours prior to testing. By restricting marijuana use as proposed, subjects should not be under the acute effects of marijuana, and also may be experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms, the measurement of which is one of the outcome variables being tested.
  • Subjects must consent to random assignment.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Women who are pregnant, nursing or of childbearing potential and not practicing an effective means of birth control.
  • Subjects with evidence of or a history of significant hematological, endocrine, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, gastrointestinal, or neurological disease including diabetes, as these conditions may affect physiological/subjective responses.
  • Subjects with Addison's disease, Cushing's disease or other diseases of the adrenal cortex likely to affect hormonal/neuroendocrine status.
  • Subjects with a history of or current psychotic disorder or bipolar affective disorder as these may interfere with subjective measurements.
  • Subjects with current major depressive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder as these disorders are associated with characteristic changes in stress response.
  • Subjects receiving synthetic glucocorticoid therapy, any exogenous steroid therapy, or treatment with other agents that interfere with hormonal measurements within one month of test session.
  • Subjects taking any psychotropic medications, including SRI's or other antidepressants, opiates or opiate antagonists because these may affect test response.
  • Subjects with any acute illness or fever. Individuals who otherwise meet study criteria will be rescheduled for evaluation for participation.
  • Subjects who are obese (³ 20% over ideal weight) as this may interfere with hormonal status.
  • Subjects who are unwilling or unable to maintain abstinence from alcohol and other drugs of abuse (except nicotine) for three days prior to the stress task procedure.
  • Subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence (other than nicotine or marijuana) within the past 60 days.
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Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01335789

United States, South Carolina
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, United States, 29425
Sponsors and Collaborators
Medical University of South Carolina
Principal Investigator: Aimee McRae-Clark, Pharm.D. Medical University of South Carolina
  More Information

No publications provided

Responsible Party: Aimee McRae-Clark, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01335789     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 20274
Study First Received: April 8, 2011
Last Updated: April 2, 2013
Health Authority: United States: Food and Drug Administration

Keywords provided by Medical University of South Carolina:
substance abuse
drug abuse
marijuana dependence
drug addiction

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Marijuana Abuse
Substance-Related Disorders
Mental Disorders
Reproductive Control Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Pharmacologic Actions
Therapeutic Uses

ClinicalTrials.gov processed this record on July 28, 2014