The love hormone which in scientific language is called oxytocin can actually help heal and regenerate heart tissue. Photo/Neurosciencenews
Oxytocin has been dubbed the “love” hormone because of its known role in forging social bonds and trust. According to the journal Frontiers in Psychology, oxytocin levels can increase when people cuddle, have sex or orgasm.
The love hormone also has many other functions in the body, such as triggering contractions during childbirth and increasing lactation afterward. Oxytocin also helps protect the cardiovascular system from injury by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and scavenging free radicals.
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In the new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology on Friday September 30, 2022, oxytocin in zebrafish can help the heart replace injured and dead cardiomyocytes. Preliminary results in human cells suggest that oxytocin can induce a similar effect, if given at the right time and in the right dose.
It is known that the heart has a very limited ability to repair or replace damaged or dead tissue. But some research suggests that after an injury, such as a heart attack, some cells in the heart’s outer membrane, called the epicardium, take on a new identity.
These cells migrate to the tissue layer of the heart where the muscle is located and turn into rod-like cells. It can then turn into several types of cardiac cells, including cardiomyocytes. This process has mostly been studied in animals and there is some evidence to suggest that it can also occur in adult humans.
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These experiments provide early clues that oxytocin may play a key role in cardiac repair after injury. Scientists can develop new treatments to improve patients’ recovery after a heart attack and reduce their risk of heart failure in the future.
This treatment may include medications that contain oxytocin or other molecules that can be linked to hormone receptors. “Overall, pre-clinical animal trials and clinical trials in humans are needed to move forward,” said Aitor Aguirre, assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.