Thoughts on Better Aging

UC Berkeley Researchers Explore Benefits of Oxytocin

August 26th, 2014

Study shows oxytocin can combat age-related muscle wasting without increasing risk of cancer.

At Renew Woman™, we currently prescribe oxytocin as part of our female sexual function treatment. This hormone plays a very important role in the non-procreative aspects of sex, including arousal and orgasm. As such it makes a valuable component of treatments designed to alleviate sexual function issues associated with menopause. This application of oxytocin is well established and backed by a significant body of research.

Researchers at UC Berkeley are also exploring other applications of oxytocin. They may have good news for women who want to preserve their strength, mobility, and independence well into old age. Preliminary research done on mice suggests that the oxytocin can combat the age-related muscle wasting that can begin to affect women as early as their 30s.

In a series of experiments, the researchers tested several hypotheses. First, they sought to confirm that oxytocin levels really do decline with age. They found that circulating oxytocin levels in the blood of old mice were 3 times lower than the levels in young mice. Additionally, they confirmed that as the mice aged, the number of oxytocin receptors in their muscle stem cells declined.

Next, they tested how boosting oxytocin levels in old mice affected their ability to repair muscle tissue. They gave a group of old mice daily oxytocin injections for nine days. On day four, a muscle injury was induced in all these mice as well as in control groups of old and young mice. At the end of the trial period, the old mice who had receive the oxytocin treatment showed fast muscle regeneration comparable to the rate at which the young mice healed.

Finally, the researchers sought to prove that there is no harmful side effect to elevated oxytocin levels by giving injections to young mice that already had healthy oxytocin levels. The injections had no significant effect, positive or negative, indicating that unlike many other tissue repair molecules, oxytocin can boost muscle repair without making cells divide uncontrollably or increasing the risk of cancer.

It is likely that the researchers could move into human trials soon if they would like to, since oxytocin is already approved for clinical use in humans by the FDA.

At Renew Woman™, we make a serious effort to stay up to date with the latest science and research in the field of healthy female aging. However, we don’t just jump on every trend that comes along we carefully scrutinize the methodology and results of each study that supports a leap forward in healthy female aging to make sure we only adopt treatments that will be safe and effective for our clients.

In the absence of data from human clinical trials of oxytocin for reversing age-related muscle decline, we continue to recommend a healthy diet and exercise, along with possible nutritional supplements or hormone therapies designed to combat osteoporosis, as the healthiest way for women to remain strong and agile as they age. We continue to reserve oxytocin treatment for relief from sexual function issues.

 

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