Alzheimer’s is one of the most notorious degenerative disorders associated with aging, and a lot of studies have focused on ways to slow, stop, and prevent the disease. What is understood about the cause is the accumulation of amyloid ß, a protein better known as Aß, in clumps that form plaques around brain neurons, particularly in the hippocampus. As more plaque builds, it begins to disrupt the brain’s signals and begins the degeneration process, particularly of memory which is tied to the hippocampus. In the hippocampus, Aß disrupts the synaptic plasticity of neurons, which inhibits their ability to adapt to the changing activity levels of the synapses. Determining how to remove that plaque safely has proven to be a significant problem.
After confirming that Aß as a contributor to impairment, a study at the Tokyo University of Science looked at how the addition of the hormone oxytocin affects brains with this plague build up. The team thinks that oxytocin reverses damage by facilitating the influx of additional calcium to the area. It is thought that Aß could reduce or prevent calcium activity in the area. Medical professionals currently believe that calcium assists with neural signaling and the formation of memories.
Oxytocin was able to reduce the negative effects of the Aß until either the oxytocin receptors were inhibited or the receptors that transported calcium in the cell membranes was blocked in tests. This showed a direct link between oxytocin, which is known for being increased when a person feels they are in love, and helping to repair damage done by Aß-induced issues. This provides some hope that medical professionals will be able to develop a medication that will replicate the effects that oxytocin has to help repair Alzheimer’s and dementia damage to the hippocampus.
To learn more about how the ‘love hormone’ may provide some support in the fight against Alzheimer’s, start with the article, ‘Love hormone’ oxytocin may reverse brain damage in Alzheimer’s disease – Study Finds, and it can lead you to further studies on the subject.