Menu

Blog

Jul 28, 2020

‘Love hormone’ oxytocin could be used to treat cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

Scientists discover that oxytocin could be used to treat cognitive disorder like Alzheimer’s disease.


Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder in which the nerve cells (neurons) in a person’s brain and the connections among them degenerate slowly, causing severe memory loss, intellectual deficiencies, and deterioration in motor skills and communication. One of the main causes of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of a protein called amyloid β (Aβ) in clusters around neurons in the brain, which hampers their activity and triggers their degeneration.

Studies in animal models have found that increasing the aggregation of Aβ in the hippocampus—the brain’s main learning and memory center—causes a decline in the signal transmission potential of the neurons therein. This degeneration affects a specific trait of the neurons, called ‘,’ which is the ability of synapses (the site of signal exchange between neurons) to adapt to an increase or decrease in signaling activity over time. Synaptic plasticity is crucial to the development of learning and cognitive functions in the hippocampus. Thus, Aβ and its role in causing cognitive memory and deficits have been the focus of most research aimed at finding treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Now, advancing this research effort, a team of scientists from Japan, led by Professor Akiyoshi Saitoh from the Tokyo University of Science, has looked at oxytocin, a hormone conventionally known for its role in the female reproductive system and in inducing the feelings of love and well-being. “Oxytocin was recently found to be involved in regulating learning and memory performance, but so far, no previous study deals with the effect of oxytocin on Aβ-induced ,” Prof Saitoh says. Realizing this, Prof Saitoh’s group set out to connect the dots. Their findings are published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communication.

Leave a reply