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"Love hormone" can literally save broken hearts: scientists find confirmation

Yulia PoteriankoSociety
Danio fish can use oxytocin to repair a severely damaged heart.

In practice, the poetic term "broken heart" describes a very unpleasant and dangerous health condition - damage to the heart muscle for various reasons. In particular, due to a heart attack that occurred after strong emotional experiences. However, scientists have now come to the conclusion that such ailments can be treated in the future with oxytocin, also called the "love hormone" or "hug hormone".

According to Live Science, the effect of oxytocin on heart muscle tissue was studied in danio fish and human cell culture grown in Petri dishes. It turned out that, in addition to its ability to lift mood, form attachments, induce lactation in women in labour, lower blood pressure and neutralise free radicals, this hormone helped danio fish replace damaged or dead heart cells with new cardiomyocytes. These cells are responsible for the heart's ability to contract.

The results of the study were published in late September in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. Moreover, the authors pointed out that oxytocin showed similar results in a culture of human heart muscle cells grown in a Petri dish. This could potentially indicate that oxytocin administered at the right time and in the right dose could protect the heart from damage during cardiovascular disasters.

The study says that earlier work has already shown the limited ability of the human heart to heal itself. In particular, by reprogramming a subset of cells in the epicardium that can turn into stem cells (EpiPCs), which in turn can turn into new cardiomyocytes and other types of heart cells. But they were still not enough to completely overcome the negative effects of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, danio fish are known for their amazing ability to restore their "motor". They can repair the heart even if the organ has been damaged by a quarter. As scientists have found, this happens simultaneously due to the growth of new caridomyocytes and the work of EpiPC. The researchers froze the danio for three days, which caused heart damage, but then observed a regeneration process accompanied by a rapid increase in oxytocin levels in the brain by up to 20 times, after which the hormone entered the heart and started the recovery process.

It is now known that no other hormone has had such an effect on human heart tissue. The scientists concluded that the data obtained could be used to develop new methods of treating patients with heart attacks and reducing the risk of heart failure in the future by enhancing the effect of oxytocin on the body. These treatments may be based on drugs containing oxytocin or other molecules that can bind to the hormone's receptors. However, scientists will have to conduct preclinical animal trials and clinical trials in humans.

As OBOZREVATEL reported, in addition to hugging and sex, oxytocin is also produced during kissing. The former head of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Uliana Suprun, told how kissing can be beneficial for lovers.

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