Can the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin treat Alzheimer’s?


Can the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin treat Alzheimer’s?

In laboratory studies using brain tissue, oxytocin appeared to reverse the effect of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease on brain cells. The hormone may restore the cells’ “plasticity,” which is vital for memory and learning.

The hormone oxytocin originates in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Oxytocin plays important roles in childbirth, breastfeeding, and social bonding. It may also facilitate romantic attachment. The body releases the hormone during sexual activity, earning the chemical its popular reputation as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin’s related role in social bonding suggests that it could also help treat social anxiety and autism. Its effect on memory is less well-established, but an older study in mice found that it can improve long-term spatial learning and memory. Recently, researchers at Tokyo University of Science in Japan and Kitasato University, also in Tokyo, Japan, wondered whether or not the chemical could help protect nerve cells in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

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