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Journal Article

Analytical and physiological validation of an enzyme immunoassay to measure oxytocin in dog, wolf, and human urine samples


Deschner,  Tobias       
Chimpanzees, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Wirobski, G., Schaebs, F. S., Range, F., Marshall-Pescini, S., & Deschner, T. (2021). Analytical and physiological validation of an enzyme immunoassay to measure oxytocin in dog, wolf, and human urine samples. Scientific Reports, 11: 12793. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-92356-z.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-E745-6
Oxytocin (OT) promotes pro-sociality, bonding, and cooperation in a variety of species. Measuring
oxytocin metabolite (OTM) concentrations in urine or saliva provides intriguing opportunities to study
human and animal behaviour with minimal disturbance. However, a thorough validation of analytical
methods and an assessment of the physiological signifcance of these measures are essential. We
conducted an analytical validation of a commercial Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA; Arbor OT assay kit)
to measure OTM concentrations in dog, wolf, and human urine samples. To test the assay’s ability
to detect changes in OTM concentrations, we administered oxytocin intranasally to 14 dogs. Assay
performance with regard to parallelism was acceptable. Assay accuracy and extraction efciency
for dog and wolf samples were comparable to a previously validated assay (Enzo OT assay kit) but
variation was smaller for human samples. Binding sensitivity and antibody specifcity were better in
the Arbor assay. Average OTM concentrations were more than twice as high as in comparable samples
measured with the Enzo assay, highlighting a lack of comparability of absolute values between
diferent assays. Changes in OTM concentrations after intranasal treatment were detected reliably.
The Arbor assay met requirements of a “ft-for-purpose” validation with improvement of several
parameters compared to the Enzo assay.