Intranasal Oxytocin Derivative Could Reduce Alzheimer’s Cognitive Impairment


Oxytocin has been deemed the “love drug” or “love hormone.” This hormone, which controls aspects of behavior and reproduction, is often released when we’re in love or in physical contact with someone we love. But could oxytocin – or a derivative of it – improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease? According to a news release from the Tokyo University of Science, a research team is currently exploring whether a novel oxytocin derivative could enhance cognition and reverse or reduce cognitive impairment.

Evaluating PAS-CPPs-oxytocin for Cognitive Impairment

The accumulation of beta-amyloid (Aβ) in brain tissue has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. As this protein accumulates, it halts adequate neural function. However, previous studies performed by this research team found that oxytocin could reverse synaptic plasticity impairment due to Aβ buildup. At the same time, the researchers noticed that oxytocin has difficulty getting through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) without invasive, targeted therapeutic administration.

Researchers sought to determine whether intranasal oxytocin derivative administration could be both safe and effective. To begin, the research team developed mice models of dementia caused by Aβ accumulation. Next, the researchers evaluated the memory and learning capabilities of these mice. Finally, using a new delivery mechanism with cell-penetrating peptides and a penetration accelerating sequence, the derivative (PAS-CPPs-oxytocin) was administered to the mice intranasally. This new method allowed researchers to effectively cross the BBB. Researchers used fluorescence to identify where within the brain the PAS-CPPs-oxytocin ended up.

Ultimately, the findings, published in Neuropsychopharmacology Reportsshowed that the oxytocin derivative was adequately distributed throughout the brain. It was also shown to improve memory and learning capabilities. The researchers believe that, in the future, this type of oxytocin derivative could potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed to determine whether this is actually a viable therapeutic option.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by brain cell degeneration and death. Doctors and scientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease results from a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors. Plaques and tangles may also cause neurons to disconnect and die. Additional risk factors include older age, a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, being female, past head trauma, and poor exercise or sleeping patterns. Symptoms and characteristics can (but do not always) include:

  • Worsening memory loss
  • Confusion which may worsen in the evening
  • Problems with thinking, reasoning, planning, and making judgments
  • Changes in mood, behavior, and personality
  • Loss of preserved skills
  • Jumbled speech
  • Appetite loss
  • Aspiration (complication)
  • Pneumonia (complication)
  • Malnutrition and dehydration (complication)
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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