Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that oxytocin—a hormone associated with maternal nurturing, social attachments, childbirth and sex—is indispensable for healthy muscle maintenance and repair, and that in mice, it declines with age.The new study, to be published Tuesday, June 10, in the journal Nature Communications, presents oxytocin as the latest treatment target for age-related muscle wasting, or sarcopenia.
A few other biochemical factors in blood have been connected to aging and disease in recent years, but oxytocin is the first anti-aging molecule identified that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical use in humans, the researchers said. Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, is already used to help with labor and to control bleeding after childbirth. Clinical trials of an oxytocin nasal spray are also underway to alleviate symptoms associated with mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and dementia.
“Unfortunately, most of the molecules discovered so far to boost tissue regeneration are also associated with cancer, limiting their potential as treatments for humans,” said study principal investigator Irina Conboy, associate professor of bioengineering. “Our quest is to find a molecule that not only rejuvenates old muscle and other tissue, but that can do so sustainably long-term without increasing the risk of cancer.”
Conboy and her research team say that oxytocin, secreted into the blood by the brain’s pituitary gland, is a good candidate because it is a broad range hormone that reaches every organ, and it is not known to be associated with tumors or to interfere with the immune system.
A happy hormone
Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “trust hormone” because of its association with romance and friendship. It is released with a warm hug, a grasped hand or a loving gaze, and it increases libido. The hormone kicks into high gear during and after childbirth, helping new mothers bond with and breastfeed their new babies.
“This is the hormone that makes your heart melt when you see kittens, puppies and human babies,” said Conboy, who is also a member of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). “There is an ongoing joke among my research team that we’re all happy, friendly and trusting because oxytocin permeates the lab.”
The researchers pointed out that while oxytocin is found in both young boys and girls, it is not yet known when levels of the hormone start to decline in humans, and what levels are necessary for maintaining healthy tissues.
Christian Elabd and Wendy Cousin, both senior scientists in Conboy’s lab, were co-lead authors on this study.
Previous research by Elabd found that administering oxytocin helped prevent the development of osteoporosis in mice that had their ovaries removed to mimic menopause.
Extra oxytocin more beneficial for the old
The new study determined that in mice, blood levels of oxytocin declined with age. They also showed that there are fewer receptors for oxytocin in muscle stem cells in old versus young mice.
To tease out oxytocin’s role in muscle repair, the researchers injected the hormone under the skin of old mice for four days, and then for five days more after the muscles were injured. After the nine-day treatment, they found that the muscles of the mice that had received oxytocin injections healed far better than those of a control group of mice without oxytocin.
“The action of oxytocin was fast,” said Elabd. “The repair of muscle in the old mice was at about 80 percent of what we saw in the young mice.”
Interestingly, giving young mice an extra boost of oxytocin did not seem to cause a significant change in muscle regeneration.
“This is good because it demonstrates that extra oxytocin boosts aged tissue stem cells without making muscle stem cells divide uncontrollably,” Cousin added.
The researchers also found that blocking the effects of oxytocin in young mice rapidly compromised their ability to repair muscle, which resembled old tissue after an injury.
The researchers also studied mice whose gene for oxytocin was disabled, and compared them with a group of control mice. At a young age, there was no significant difference between the two groups in muscle mass or repair efficiency after an injury. It wasn’t until the mice with the disabled oxytocin gene reached adulthood that signs of premature aging began to appear.
“When disabling other types of genes associated with tissue repair, defects appear right away either during embryonic development, or early in life,” said Conboy. “To our knowledge, the oxytocin gene is the only one whose impact is seen later in life, suggesting that its role is closely linked to the aging process.”
Future treatment options
Cousin noted that oxytocin could become a viable alternative to hormone replacement therapy as a way to combat the symptoms of both female and male aging, and for long-term health. Hormone therapy did not show improvements in agility or muscle regeneration ability, and it is no longer recommended for disease prevention because research has found that the therapy’s benefits did not outweigh its health risks.
In addition to healthy muscle, oxytocin is predicted to improve bone health, and it might be important in combating obesity.
Conboy said her lab plans to examine oxytocin’s role in extending a healthy life in animals, and in conserving its beneficial anti-aging effects in humans.
She noted that there is a growing circle of scientists who believe that aging is the underlying cause of a number of chronic diseases, including Parkinson’s and Type 2 diabetes.
“If you target processes associated with aging, you may be tackling those diseases at the same time,” said Conboy. “Aging is a natural process, but I believe that we can meaningfully intervene with age-imposed organ degeneration, thereby slowing down the rate at which we become progressively unhealthy.”
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Rigorous studies have not linked testosterone replacement therapy to heart attack or stroke, and the decision to prescribe testosterone replacement therapy should be based on a full diagnostic work-up – not the underlying cause of hypogonadism, according to a new position statement from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
The statement challenges several aspects of a recent Food and Drug Administration safety announcement warning about “possible” increased risks of heart attack and stroke with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and approving its use only for testicular, pituitary, or brain disorders that cause low testosterone, not for age-associated hypogonadism.
In fact, AACE rejoined, randomized controlled trials have lacked the power to assess whether TRT increases the chances of cardiovascular events or death. Data linking TRT to cardiovascular problems come from a few retrospective studies , the “major flaws” of which limit their ability to assess risk. “Large-scale prospective randomized controlled trials on testosterone therapy, focusing on cardiovascular benefits and risks, are clearly needed. As with therapeutics in general, common sense, experience, and an individualized approach are recommended” ( Endocr Pract. 2015;21:1066-73 ).
The benefits and risks of TRT in age-associated hypogonadism remain uncertain, according to both the FDA and AACE. Until better studies are available, AACE recommends that clinicians consider TRT for men with signs and symptoms that are consistent with hypogonadism, regardless of cause, and who have at least two “unequivocally low” testosterone levels in samples drawn before 10 a.m.
Clinicians also should educate patients about the possible cardiovascular risks of TRT, should be “extra cautious” when considering TRT for symptomatic elderly men with lowtestosterone levels, and should avoid TRT entirely in frail elderly men “until better outcome data are available,” AACE also recommended. Furthermore, clinicians should avoid TRT for patients with uncontrolled or poorly controlled heart failure, a history of heart attack or cerebrovascular accident within the past 6 months, an individual or family history of a procoagulant state, or an individual history of thromboembolism, AACE stated.
Although TRT can improve some cardiovascular risk factors by promoting muscle gain and fat loss, decreasing insulin resistance, and potentially reversing metabolic syndrome, it remains unclear whether low testosterone is a marker of cardiovascular illness or a causal factor, AACE noted. Replacement therapy is most likely to benefit men with very low testosterone levels, not those whose levels are just below normal, according to AACE.
The American Urological Association has echoed several recommendations from AACE, emphasizing in its own statement that “testosterone therapy in the absence of hypogonadism is inappropriate” and calling for more federal and industry funding for studies of the indications, benefits, and risks of approved treatments for hypogonadism as well as studies of new potential therapies. “Current evidence does not provide any definitive answers regarding the risks of testosterone therapy on prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease, and patients should be so informed,” noted the statement from the AUA, which was last updated in August 2015.
The AACE Reproductive Endocrinology Scientific Committee listed the following disclosures: first author Dr. Neil Goodman reported serving on the AbbVie speaker bureau for AndroGel and senior author Dr. Glenn Cunningham reported receiving research support from Abbvie, having served on advisory panels for Abbvie, Apricus, Clarus Therapeutics, Endo Pharma, and Lilly and having consulted for Clarus Therapeutics, Endo Pharma, Ferring, Purdue Pharma, and Repros Therapeutics. Two other coauthors declared financial relationships with Abbvie, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Sanofi-Aventies, and a number of other pharmaceutical companies. The other two coauthors declared no competing interests.
By: AMY KARON, Clinical Endocrinology News Digital Network http://www.clinicalendocrinologynews.com/specialty-focus/men-s-health/single-article-page/aace-releases-new-position-statement-on-testosterone-replacement-therapy-in-men/be703dd9532765177582f453158e98e1.html
A Message from Dr. Lach: http://www.bostontestosterone.com/doc…/DoctorLachMessage.pdf
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Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines the word ‘Lipotropic’ as something that promotes “the physiological utilization of fat.” In other words, lipotropic injections help your body burn fat. Lipotropics are essential for a healthy liver because they help reduce the amount of dangerous fat in that organ. Without lipotropic compounds, fat and bile could accumulate and rise to dangerous levels in your liver, putting you at risk for cirrhosis and other serious liver diseases. Scientists classify several substances as lipotropic compounds. Three lipotropic compounds in particular – Choline, Inositol and Methionine – help you lose weight.
This is an essential amino acid, meaning it cannot be produced by the body itself. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure an intake through nutrition and/or supplementation. Methionine has a fat-dissolving effect and reduces the depositing of fat in the liver. By helping prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver it ensures normal liver function, which is essential for the elimination of toxins from the body. Methionine also supports liver function by regulating glutathione supplies; glutathione is needed to help neutralize toxins in the liver. The body also needs plenty of Methionine to produce two other sulfur-containing amino acids , Cysteine and Taurine , which help the body eliminate toxins, build strong, healthy tissues, and promote cardiovascular health.
Inositol benefits your body in a number of ways by transporting fat throughout your body and it also aids the neurons in your central nervous system to make sure everything is running smoothly. One major health benefit of Inositol is that when combined with Choline, they produce lecithin. Lecithin is fundamental in breaking down fats in your body and this means that it can prevent fat build ups in the cell walls of your heart, arteries and brain by breaking down the fatty deposits. Less fat in your arteries, means lower cholesterol!
One of the most talked about Inositol benefits is how it benefits your hair. It’s a member of the B complex family which, are known to promote strong, healthier hair, and faster growth.
Choline serves various functions in our bodies. Over the past few years, there has been a rush of research, and there are now hints that Choline may be essential not only for the brain development of fetuses and infants, but may help prevent memory loss associated with aging.
Choline has been shown to protect the liver from certain types of damage, and can help reverse damage that has already occurred. Additionally, it may help lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels associated with cardiovascular disease, and may also help protect against some types of cancers.
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