“Love Hormone” Could Heal Your Heart


Researchers have found that oxytocin, sometimes known as the “love hormone,” may one day help heal damaged hearts after a heart attack.

The neurohormone oxytocin is widely recognized for fostering social connections and producing pleasurable feelings, such as those associated with sex, exercise, or art. However, the hormone has a variety of other functions, such as the regulation of lactation and uterine contractions in females, and the regulation of ejaculation, sperm transport, and testosterone production in males.

Now, scientists from Michigan State University have demonstrated that oxytocin has yet another, previously unknown, function in zebrafish and human cell cultures: it stimulates stem cells from the heart’s outer layer (epicardium) to migrate into its middle layer (myocardium), where they develop into cardiomyocytes, the muscle cells that cause heart contractions. This finding could one day be used to promote the regeneration of the human heart after a heart attack. The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

“Here we show that oxytocin, a neuropeptide also known as the love hormone, is capable of activating heart repair mechanisms in injured hearts in zebrafish and human cell cultures, opening the door to potential new therapies for heart regeneration in humans,” said Dr. Aitor Aguirre, an assistant professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering of Michigan State University, and the study’s senior author.

- scitechdaily


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