Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’, may improve cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s

Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’, may improve cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s

An old man and an old woman kiss under an umbrella in correspondence with an article about dementia and the hormone of love.Share on Pinterest
A new study found that an oxytocin derivative administered through the nostrils improved memory in mice with cognitive impairment. Laurence Monneret/Getty Images
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia characterized by cognitive disturbances and behavioral changes.
  • Current treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease are limited to medications that help control symptoms.
  • A new study found that a derivative of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” delivered through the nostrils improved memory in cognitively impaired mice.
  • The researchers suggest that their findings could lead to useful treatment options for Alzheimer’s in the clinical setting.

According to a 2021 Alzheimer’s Association report, estimates in the United States indicate that 6.2 million people over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The report suggests that this number could rise to 13.8 million by 2060, unless effective prevention or treatment options emerge.

Currently, the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood. However, some research suggests that the accumulation of amyloid B (AB) peptides in the brain may play a role in the development of the disease.

Still, according to a 2022 National Institute on Aging (NIA) statement, AD is a complex disorder that may involve other cellular changes. In addition to AB accumulation, proteins such as tau, TDP43, and alpha-synuclein may also be a factor. Additionally, inflammation, genetics, environmental factors, and vascular changes may also play a role.

Currently, Alzheimer’s treatment options are limited to medications that can help control the cognitive and behavioral symptoms associated with the disorder.

Now a new to study by researchers at the Tokyo University of Sciences found that a cell-penetrating derivative of oxytocin administered into the nostrils of mice with memory problems reversed the rodent’s cognitive decline.

Although the study used mice and not human participants, the findings suggest that oxytocin could potentially reduce cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for bonding behaviors and romantic attachment. Therefore, it is often referred to as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin also plays a critical role in childbirth and lactation.

in a previous to study by researchers at the Tokyo University of Sciences, scientists found that oxytocin could reverse the effects of beta-amyloid (Aβ) peptides in the hippocampus of mice.

Based on these findings, the research team sought to examine the effects of oxytocin in mice with Aβ-induced memory problems.

Specifically, the scientists wanted to determine whether oxytocin would influence spatial memory.

First, the scientists had the mice perform Y-maze and Morris water-maze (MWM) tests to examine spatial work and spatial reference memory. The team also assessed the rodent’s locomotor activity using a multichannel activity counting system.

Then, in a group of rodents, the team used intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration to deliver oxytocin to brain tissue.

Due to the invasive nature and impracticality of the ICV technique in a clinical setting, the scientists also used intranasally (IN) delivery to administer oxytocin in another group of mice.

According to the study, peptides such as oxytocin have poor permeability of the blood-brain barrier, meaning they cannot easily enter brain tissue.

Therefore, the team used an oxytocin derivative containing cell-penetrating peptides and a penetration-accelerating sequence for the nasal delivery experiments.

In addition, the scientists labeled the derivative with fluorescein isothiocyanate so they could see how it dispersed into brain tissue with imaging techniques.

After the oxytocin-treated mice performed the spatial memory tests, the scientists found that the mice that received oxytocin through ICV administration showed improvements in memory on both the Y-maze and MWM tests.

Mice receiving IN administration of the oxytocin derivative alone showed improvements in memory on the Y-maze test.

Still, by looking at fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled oxytocin, the scientists found that the oxytocin derivative was dispersed throughout the rodent’s brain tissue after IN administration.

According to the study authors, the results suggest that IN administration of the oxytocin derivative effectively reaches brain tissue and could be a useful treatment for cognitive decline in clinical settings.

“My team is the first to show that the derivative of oxytocin can improve [B-amyloid peptide]induced memory impairment in mice,” study lead author Jun-Ichiro Oka, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Tokyo University of Science, said in a statement. Press release.

“This suggests that oxytocin may help reduce the cognitive decline we see in Alzheimer’s disease.”

After reviewing the research, James GiordanoPh.D., a professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, who was not involved in the study, said New doctor today:

“This is an important article because it demonstrates a putative role for the neuropeptide oxytocin in both protective and restorative effects against (amyloid-induced) neurodegeneration. Furthermore, it reveals that both endogenous oxytocin [and] exogenously administered oxytocin can exert such effects in an animal model.”

“Interestingly, a related neuropeptide, vasopressin, is also known to contribute to memory formation and processing in the mammalian brain, and this study may shed new light on the interactive roles of neuropeptides in brain health.” , protection against oxidative stress and maintenance of neurocognitive functions”.

– James Giordano, Ph.D., professor of neurology

Dr Ajay VermaPh.D., a general partner at Formation Venture Engineering and a former professor of neurology at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, who was also not involved in the study, said MNT:

“This research by Akiyoshi Saitoh’s group at the Tokyo University of Sciences may have implications for Alzheimer’s disease research as well as brain drug delivery. These scientists have previously reported the beneficial effects of oxytocin in isolated brain tissue and now show this in a live animal model of amyloid-induced memory dysfunction.”

“Delivery of peptides like oxytocin to the brain is challenging, so these researchers worked on novel modifications to facilitate this delivery,” said Dr. Verma.

“Intranasal (IN) administration of peptide drugs has long been sought as a noninvasive route to the brain, and while this approach often works well in animals with long snouts, it has historically not translated well in primates, including primates. humans. This study shows that a modified version of oxytocin with enhanced cellular uptake was effective in the memory loss model when administered intranasally, while the native version of oxytocin was not.”

– Dr. Ajay Verma, Ph.D., neurologist

Dr. Verma added that many pharmacological mechanisms suggested by animal models have not translated into benefit in clinical trials.

“We will have to wait and see how this translates to humans,” he said.

“However, this study also suggests that certain peptide modifications may help deliver drugs more effectively across the nasal-brain barrier, and this knowledge could be applied to improve brain delivery of many drugs.”

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