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Could ‘Love Hormone’ Be Key to Dementia Treatment?

'Love Hormone' Could Be Successful in Treating Dementia: Study
Source: MEGA

Researchers believe oxytocin could be successful in treating dementia.

Feb. 19 2024, Published 1:01 p.m. ET

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New findings suggest that the hormone oxytocin, often dubbed the "love hormone" for its role in fostering emotional bonds in animals, could hold promise in the treatment of dementia, according to sources.

Recent research delving into oxytocin has unveiled its potential impact on cognitive functions, alongside its well-established influence on psychological well-being and social connections in animals.

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Scientists, led by Professor Akiyoshi Saitoh and Junpei Takahashi from Tokyo University of Science, embarked on a study to explore how oxytocin influences memory, particularly examining the role of oxytocin neurons and receptors within the brain.

Their investigation illuminated the intricate neural pathways and signaling mechanisms triggered by oxytocin, shedding light on its potential therapeutic applications.

In a press release, Professor Saitoh said, "Previously we had suggested that oxytocin may be a new therapeutic candidate for dementia... [Our] study examined the role of endogenous oxytocin in mouse cognitive function,” which he said revealed insights into its effects on memory through specific activation of oxytocin neurons.

Using advanced techniques, researchers activated oxytocin neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN) of mice, subsequently evaluating cognitive function through tasks such as the Novel Object Recognition Task (NORT).

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They observed positive signals in the PVN and its connections to brain regions involved in learning and memory, confirming oxytocin's influence on cognition.

Interestingly, while oxytocin activation did not impact short-term memory, it notably enhanced long-term memory, hinting at its potential as a therapeutic avenue for conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

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These findings offer hope for future interventions, suggesting that stimulating oxytocin release in the brain could potentially slow the progression of dementia, particularly in settings where individuals experience loneliness or limited social engagement.

Published in PLOS One, this study adds to a growing body of research aiming to tackle the challenges posed by dementia.

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In a related development, researchers have made strides in developing a predictive test for Alzheimer's disease, leveraging biological markers identified in blood samples from over 50,000 participants.

By analyzing patterns of specific proteins, scientists were able to forecast the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, up to 15 years before diagnosis.

Combining these biomarkers with conventional risk factors yielded a predictive accuracy of 90%, offering the potential for early intervention and treatment, according to The Guardian.

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