OxytocinÂ is an age-specific circulating hormone that is necessary for muscle maintenance and regeneration
C Elabd, W Cousin, P Upadhyayula, RY Chen, MS Chooljian, J Li, S Kung, KP Jiang, IM Conboy, Nature Communications, 5, Article number:4082, Published on line 10 June, 2014.
The regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle declines with age. Previous studies suggest that this process can be reversed by exposure to young circulation; however, systemic age-specific factors responsible for this phenomenon are largely unknown. Here we report thatÂ oxytocinâ€”a hormone best known for its role in lactation, parturition and social behavioursâ€”is required for proper muscle tissue regeneration and homeostasis, and that plasma levels ofÂ oxytocinÂ decline with age. Inhibition ofÂ oxytocinÂ signalling in young animals reduces muscle regeneration, whereas systemic administration ofÂ oxytocinÂ rapidly improves muscle regeneration by enhancing aged muscle stem cell activation/proliferation through activation of the MAPK/ERK signalling pathway. We further show that the genetic lack ofÂ oxytocinÂ does not cause a developmental defect in muscle but instead leads to premature sarcopenia. Considering thatÂ oxytocinÂ is an FDA-approved drug, this work reveals a potential novel and safe way to combat or prevent skeletal muscle ageing.