Could the “love hormone” aid in the regeneration of cardiac muscle cells during a heart attack?

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  • Cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease, which results in heart attacks, kills almost 18.6 million people worldwide every year.
  • Hormone oxytocin promotes the growth of new heart muscle cells.
  • This finding might one day aid in the recovery of cardiac muscle cells lost due to a heart attack.

Nearly 18.6 million individuals worldwide passed away from cardiovascular disease in 2019; it is presently the top cause of mortality worldwide. Coronary artery disease, the most widespread form of heart disease, is brought on by plaque buildup inside the blood channels that supply the heart.

A myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack or a heart attack with a high risk of death, occurs when the heart does not get the blood and oxygen it requires.

Heart damage can result from dying heart muscle cells, which are deprived of blood and oxygen.

Cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells, were unable to grow again. This implied that any cardiac muscle cells destroyed during a heart attack were irreversible and could not be replaced. Though it’s possible that cardiac muscle cells can regenerate.

Cardiomyocyte regeneration could benefit from the hormone oxytocin’s stimulation. In the future, this discovery could aid in the recovery of heart attack victims’ missing heart muscle cells.

Cells in the cardiac muscle and oxytocin.

We reasoned that there should be some sort of “central control” rather than total autonomy because regeneration is a very energy-demanding process and severely restricts heart performance.

Potential neuroendocrine routes that the brain could regulate were those that provided central control over important bodily functions. There are around 20 or so significant neuroendocrine hormones, and one of its functions is to stimulate the epicardial stem cells, which are involved in heart regeneration. Oxytocin was the most popular.

Epicardium-derived progenitor cells, stem cells produced from the epicardium of the heart, are stimulated by oxytocin to differentiate into cardiomyocytes.

A population of adult cells in the epicardium, the outer layer of the heart, undergo a stem cell-reprogramming process by oxytocin.

These stem cells go into the myocardium, the deeper layers of the wounded heart, where they release healing factors and differentiate into damaged cells including blood vessels, cardiomyocytes, and fibroblasts to repair some of the damage.

It is simple to envision oxytocin and several analogs as a potential medication that could be given to patients immediately after myocardial infarction to promote endogenous regeneration — either as an injection into the bloodstream or perhaps a pill using small molecule drugs.

Oxytocin and several analogs are already used in the clinic for other conditions. This might be a big step in the right direction toward lowering heart attack mortality and morbidity.