Heart attack: Could ‘love hormone’ help regenerate heart muscle cells?

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Almost 18.6 million people die each year from cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease, which causes heart attacks. Researchers from Michigan State University have found evidence that the hormone oxytocin helps stimulate the regeneration of lost heart muscle cells. Scientists hope this discovery may one day help people regain heart muscle cells lost during a heart attack.

Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death worldwide — almost 18.6 millionTrusted Source people globally died from cardiovascular disease in 2019.

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which occurs when plaque builds up inside the blood vessels that supply the heart. When the heart does not receive the blood and oxygen it needs, a person may experience a potentially life-threatening heart attack, clinically called a myocardial infarction.

When heart muscle cells are deprived of blood and oxygen, they can start to die, damaging the heart. Historically, scientists believed that heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes, could not regenerate. This meant any heart muscle cells a person lost during a heart attack they would be unable to regain over time. However, previous research shows heart muscle cells may be able to regenerate.

And now, a research team from Michigan State University presents evidence that a hormone called oxytocin may help stimulate the regeneration of cardiomyocytes. Researchers believe this finding may one day help restore lost heart muscle cells in people who have heart attacks. This study appears in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

The hormone is usually associated with functions of the female reproductive system, including childbirthTrusted Source and breastfeedingTrusted Source.

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