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The ‘love hormone’ oxytocin can cure heartbreak

The ‘love hormone’ oxytocin can cure heartbreak


Overview: Oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and love, may help heal damage after a heart attack. Stem cells migrate from the outer layer of the heart to the middle layer where they develop into muscle cells that cause the heart to contract. It can be used to promote regeneration of heart cells after a heart attack.

sauce: frontier

The neurohormone oxytocin is well known for promoting social bonding and producing pleasurable emotions from things like art, exercise, or sex. It has many other functions such as male ejaculation, sperm transport, and regulation of testosterone production.

Researchers at Michigan State University now show in zebrafish and human cell cultures that oxytocin stimulates stem cells from the outer layer of the heart (epicardium) to migrate into its middle layer (myocardium), where they indicates that it will occur. To cardiomyocytes, the muscle cells that cause the heart to contract. This finding may one day be used to promote regeneration of the human heart after a heart attack.

Result is The forefront of cell developmental biology.

“We show that the neuropeptide oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, can activate cardiac repair mechanisms in damaged hearts in zebrafish and human cell cultures, leading to potential new therapeutics for heart regeneration in humans.” It opens the door for the world,” said Dr. Aitor. Aguirre, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan State University and senior author of the study, said:

Stem-like cells can recruit cardiomyocytes

Cardiomyocytes usually die in large numbers after a heart attack. Being highly specialized cells, they cannot replenish themselves. However, previous studies have shown that a subset of cells in the epicardium undergoes reprogramming to become stem-like cells called epicardium-derived progenitor cells (EpiPCs), not only myocardial cells but also other types of cardiac cells. It is shown to be playable.

“Think of EpiPC as the stonemasons who restored medieval European cathedrals,” Aguirre explains.

Unfortunately, EpiPC production is inefficient for human heart regeneration under natural conditions.

Zebrafish may teach us how to regenerate the heart more efficiently

Enter the zebrafish. Renowned for its extraordinary ability to regenerate organs such as the brain, retinas, internal organs, bones, and skin. They don’t suffer heart attacks, but their many predators happily chew on any organ, including the heart.

This is done in part by cardiomyocyte proliferation, but also by EpiPCs. But how does her EpiPC in zebrafish repair the heart so efficiently, and how do we find a ‘magic bullet’ in zebrafish that can artificially increase the production of her EpiPC in humans? can you find it?

Yes, and this “magic bullet” looks like oxytocin, the authors claim.

To reach this conclusion, the authors found that expression of oxytocin messenger RNA increased up to 20-fold in the brain within 3 days of cryoinjury (freeze injury) to the heart in zebrafish. Did.

They further showed that this oxytocin translocates to the zebrafish epicardium and binds to oxytocin receptors, triggering a molecular cascade that stimulates local cells to grow into EpiPCs.

This shows that the heart and brain are balanced on the scale
This discovery may one day be used to promote regeneration of the human heart after a heart attack. Image is in the public domain

These new EpiPCs then migrate to the zebrafish myocardium and develop into cardiomyocytes, blood vessels, and other vital cardiac cells, replacing lost cells.

Similar effect on human tissue culture

Importantly, the authors showed that oxytocin had similar effects on human tissues in vitroOxytocin (but not any of the other 14 neurohormones tested here) stimulates human induced pluripotent stem cell (hIPSC) cultures to become EpiPCs at up to twice the basal rate. to stimulate. This is a much more potent effect than other molecules previously shown to stimulate her EpiPC production in mice.

Conversely, gene knockdown of the oxytocin receptor prevented regenerative activation of human EpiPCs in culture. The authors also found that the link between oxytocin and stimulation of her EpiPCs is a key ‘TGF-β signaling pathway’ known to regulate cell growth, differentiation, and migration. showed.

Aguirre said: Oxytocin is widely used clinically for other reasons, so repurposing it for patients after heart injury is not unimaginable. , the benefits for the patient are immeasurable. ”

Aguirre concludes: Oxytocin itself is short-lived in the circulation, so its effects in humans may be hampered by it. Drugs specifically designed to have a long half-life or high potency may help in this setting. .

“Overall, preclinical studies in animals and clinical trials in humans are necessary to move forward.”

About this Cardiovascular Health Research News

author: Misha Dykstra
sauce: frontier
contact: Misha Dykstra – Frontier
image: image is public domain

See also

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Original research: open access.
Oxytocin promotes epicardial cell activation and heart regeneration after cardiac traumaAitor Aguirre et al. The forefront of cell developmental biology


Oxytocin promotes epicardial cell activation and heart regeneration after cardiac trauma

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, often leading to massive heart damage and loss of billions of myocardial cells and associated vasculature.

Significant research over the past two decades has shown that these lost cells can be partially regenerated by the heart’s outermost mesothelial layer, the epicardium, in a process that highly recapitulates its role in heart development. Proven.

Upon heart injury, mature epicardial cells become activated and undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to form epicardial-derived progenitor cells (EpiPCs). It is a multipotent progenitor cell that can differentiate into several important cardiac lineages, including cardiomyocytes and vascular cells.

In mammals, this process alone is insufficient for significant regeneration, but can be primed by administration of specific reprogramming factors, potentially enhancing EpiPC function.

Here, the hypothalamic neuroendocrine peptide oxytocin (OXT) induces epicardial cell proliferation, EMT, and transcriptional activation in a model of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived epicardial cells. Indicates that

Furthermore, we demonstrate that OXT is produced after cardiac cryoinjury in zebrafish and induces critical epicardial activation that promotes cardiac regeneration. Oxytocin signaling is also important for proper epicardial development in zebrafish embryos.

The above processes are severely impaired when OXT signaling is chemically or genetically inhibited by RNA interference. RNA-sequencing data suggest that the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) pathway is the major mediator of her OXT-induced epicardial activation.

Our study reveals for the first time an evolutionarily conserved brain control mechanism that guides cellular reprogramming and regeneration in injured mammalian and zebrafish hearts.




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