Human sweat contains oxytocin

Orna Zagoory-Sharon, Ari Levine, Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oxytocin (OT) has been detected in various body fluids, including blood, urine, saliva, breastmilk, and spinal fluid. Consistent with models that regard skin as a social organ and in line with studies demonstrating that skin cells express both OT and its receptor, our study sought to examine the presence of OT in human sweat. Methods: Overall, 553 individuals participated in a pilot study and three experiments. Firstly, 50 participants provided sweat after engaging in various sports for different durations. Secondly, 26 participants provided sweat from forehead, upper-chest, forearm, and underarm, including 11 in natural setting and 15 following OT administration and a 30-minute exercise. Thirdly, of 435 volunteers, 97 provided sufficient axillary sweat for assaying. Of these, 84 participated in a naturalistic experiment that involved saliva and sweat collection in response to physical activity in either solitary or social settings. OT and testosterone (TS) were assayed in sweat and saliva. Results: Intense activity for at least 25 min was required to produce sufficient sweat for OT analysis. Highest OT levels were found in axillary sweat compared to sweat from the forehead, upper-chest, and forearm. Salivary OT and TS increased after both solitary and social physical activity; however, higher sweat OT was found after solitary sports. Post-hoc preliminary findings indicate that highly extroverted individuals exercising in solitary environments showed the highest sweat OT levels. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of OT in human sweat and show the feasibility of its measurement. Much further research is required to illuminate how sweat OT is impacted by personality and social context and to uncover the role of the skin in OT production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106407
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Extraction
  • OT
  • Physical activity
  • Saliva
  • Skin
  • Social condition
  • Sweat
  • Testosterone


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