‘Love Hormone’ Could Hold Key to Treating COVID

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, October 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) – The so-called love hormone oxytocin is worth investigating as a treatment for COVID-19, according to a new study.

One of the most serious complications of infection with the novel coronavirus is a “cytokine storm”, in which the body attacks its own tissues.

There is currently no US Food and Drug Administration approved treatment for COVID-19, which means that “the reuse of existing drugs that can act on the adaptive immune response and prevent the cytokine storm in them. early stages of the disease is a priority, ”according to the researchers.

Previous research suggests that oxytocin – a hormone produced in the brain and involved in reproduction and childbirth – reduces inflammation.

In this new study, researcher Ali Imami, a graduate research assistant at the University of Toledo in Ohio, and his colleagues used a database from the US National Institutes of Health to analyze the characteristics of the genes processed. with drugs closely related to oxytocin.

The researchers found that one drug in particular, carbetocin, had characteristics similar (called a signature) to genes with reduced expression of inflammatory markers that trigger the cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients.

The signature of carbetocin suggests that the drug may trigger the activation of immune cells called T cells that play an important role in the immune response. In addition, the signature of carbetocin is also similar to that of lopinavir, an antiretroviral drug under investigation as a treatment for COVID-19.

All of these factors indicate that oxytocin may have potential as a targeted treatment for cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients, the researchers said in a press release from the American Physiological Society.

“Understanding the mechanisms by which oxytocin or the oxytocin system may be a novel immune target is crucial,” the authors concluded in their report, recently published online in the journal. Physiological genomics.

However, they added that “the safety and efficacy of intravenous oxytocin in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 remains to be evaluated.”

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