Can the “Love Hormone” Protect Against Cognitive Decline?

November 20, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.
Oxytocin, the "love hormone," may improve plasticity in the brain to benefit cognitive function
Oxytocin, the "love hormone," may improve plasticity in the brain to benefit cognitive function

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” could be a key to reversing cognitive decline, reports a study published by Neuropsychopharmacology.

Luisa Colon of Best Life discussed the study. “Oxytocin is a hormone that’s produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland,” she writes. This is the hormone that helps a new mother bond with her baby or is activated when we fall in love with our romantic partner.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Tokyo University of Science, discovered that a cell-penetrating oxytocin derivative administered in the nasal passages of memory-impaired mice reversed the rodents’ cognitive impairment.

It is thought that oxytocin reverses the effect of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease on brain cells by restoring the “plasticity” of the cells, which is vital for memory and learning.

“Our study puts forth the interesting possibility that oxytocin could be a novel therapeutic modality for the treatment of memory loss associated with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Akiyoshi Saitoh, who worked on the study.

Ajay Verma, PhD, told Medical News Today that this new method of delivering hormones could be applied to improve brain delivery of many drugs.

Much more work is necessary to test the restorative effects of oxytocin on nerve plasticity in the brain, but any new potential therapies are important.

As with most things, the medical community is still saying that the best bet against dementia is to take as many preventative measures as possible to protect your cognitive functions, including a healthy diet, aerobic exercise, maintaining close social ties and other healthy habits.

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