Alzheimer’s is an age-related disease that affects the working of neurons and degenerates the brain connection leading to partial or complete memory loss. It also causes impaired brain functions, reduced motor skills, and communicative problems. Typically, a protein namely amyloid β (Aβ) is involved in this brain cell degeneration but a new study finds that oxytocin may treat Alzheimer’s patients by reversing this damage.
This study is performed in animal models that show the aggressive role played by Aβ protein in the hippocampus part of the brain. This part is involved in learning abilities and memory building which implies how this neuron damage results in cognitive failure and memory loss.
The damage to this part of the brain is associated with synaptic plasticity, which is a natural property of neurons to create synapses. The synapses are the links created between neurons to transmit the signal or message.
This property of signal transmission is usually affected with age and time but a triggering factor could increase its risk. Considering this, the role of Aβ in memory loss and cognitive failure is the theme of almost all potential treatments for Alzheimer’s, currently in the trial phase.
A research study by the Tokyo University of Science under the lead of Professor Akiyoshi Saitoh has found that oxytocin can treat Alzheimer’s patients. Oxytocin is secreted by the body whenever the person feels happy or satisfied.
It is famous for inducing the feeling of love, happiness, and satisfaction primarily in women. Its role in learning abilities and memory-related roles was known but how it affects Aβ-induced cognitive decline is new.
Prof Saitoh whose is the lead author of this study says this study has helped to join all the dots on the role of oxytocin and Alzheimer’s linked cognitive decline. The complete findings of this study are published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communication.
This study has used the hippocampus extracted from mouse to investigate how Aβ affects the signaling among neurons also called synaptic plasticity.
Later on, this function was compared with oxytocin hormone to find how this damage is reversed through a series of tests.
Normally, this hormone binds to its receptors in the brain called oxytocin receptors. But if these receptors are blocked in the hippocampus part of the brain, it could reverse Aβ-induced cognitive impairment instead of binding to the oxytocin receptors.
Oxytocin facilitates various chemical activities taking place in the cell that promotes neuron’s signaling. It plays a role in creating memories, increasing focus, and remembering the details of anything. There is plenty of data that suggests the role of Aβ to block a few of these activities. Oxytocin doesn’t play a direct role in reversing Alzheimer’s but it only reverses the harmful effects of Aβ proteins. Based on the results obtained from this study, they concluded that oxytocin may treat Alzheimer’s patients.
This is the first study that has investigated the potential of oxytocin in reversing Aβ-caused cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. There is still a long way to determine the same effects for humans and based on the positive results, oxytocin-based medicine for Alzheimer’s patients can also be expected.