Reproductive Hormone May Curb COVID-19 Inflammation, Prevent ‘Cytokine Storm’

Researchers identify widely available oxytocin as a potential pro-immune treatment
American Physiological Society (APS)

Newswise — Rockville, Md. (October 6, 2020)—Researchers have used “omics” data containing genetic profiles of drugs to identify the hormone oxytocin as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The study is published in Physiological Genomics. It was chosen as an APSselect article for October.

Increased inflammation that leads to a “cytokine storm”—in which the body attacks its own tissues—remains one of the most serious and least understood complications of COVID-19. To date, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19, which means that “repurposing existing drugs that can act on the adaptive immune response and prevent the cytokine storm in early phases of the disease is a priority,” authors of a new study wrote.

Oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain, is involved in reproduction and childbirth. A synthetic form of oxytocin, frequently known by its brand name Pitocin, is given by an IV to some people to help labor progress and to stop bleeding after childbirth. Oxytocin also has anti-inflammatory properties, which promote an immune response. Previous research suggests the hormone protects against toxic injury and reduces levels of inflammatory substances in the lungs. Studies have also shown that cultured human cells with reduced expression of oxytocin receptors have higher levels of inflammatory proteins and oxidative stress.

The researchers of the new study used the National Institutes of Health’s Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures database to analyze characteristics of genes that have been treated with drugs closely related to oxytocin. They found one drug in particular, carbetocin, has similar characteristics (called a signature) to genes with reduced expression of the inflammatory markers that trigger cytokine storm in people with COVID-19. Carbetocin’s signature indicates that the drug may promote the activation of T cells, which are immune cells that play an important role in immune response. Carbetocin’s signature is also similar to that of lopinavir, an antiretroviral medication already being explored as a treatment for COVID-19. All of these factors point to the promising potential of oxytocin as a targeted treatment for coronavirus-related cytokine storms.

“Understanding the mechanisms by which [oxytocin] or the [oxytocin system] can be a new immune target is crucial,” the research team wrote. However, “safety and efficacy of intravenous oxytocin in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 remains to be assessed.”

Read the full article, “Oxytocin’s anti-inflammatory and proimmune functions in COVID-19: a transcriptomic signature-based approach,” published in Physiological Genomics. It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom.

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.

 

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4191
Released: 3-Dec-2020 9:00 AM EST
Sociologists Available to Discuss Vaccines and COVID-19
American Sociological Association (ASA)

As coronavirus cases rage throughout the United States—killing more than a quarter million in the U.S.—news of the effectiveness of vaccine candidates provides hope.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 8-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST Released to reporters: 3-Dec-2020 8:30 AM EST

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 8-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: The Medical Minute: Helping young athletes return to play safely after COVID-19
Released: 3-Dec-2020 8:20 AM EST
The Medical Minute: Helping young athletes return to play safely after COVID-19
Penn State Health

Young athletes in central Pennsylvania can’t wait to start basketball and wrestling season. But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, parents wonder how their children can stay safe. And, if their child gets COVID-19, parents wonder when it’s safe for that child to get back to competitive sports.

Released: 2-Dec-2020 6:05 PM EST
How Caregivers of People with Dementia Can Navigate Holidays During the Pandemic
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

As COVID-19 cases increase across the nation, many caregivers are trying to navigate the holidays for relatives with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that people not travel to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus. Mary Catherine Lundquist, program director of Care2Caregivers, a peer counseling helpline (800-424-2494) for caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease operated by Rutgers Behavioral Health Care, discusses how families can stay connected with their loved ones.

Released: 2-Dec-2020 3:50 PM EST
Tip Sheet: Celebrate holidays safely, COVID-19 vaccines, challenges in HIV vaccine trials — and new insights on evolution
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

SEATTLE – Dec. 2, 2020 – Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news with links for additional background and media contacts.If you’re following the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting (virtual, Dec. 5-8), see our media tip sheet highlighting Fred Hutch presentations and activities, including those by current ASH president Dr.

Newswise: “This is how we can help” – Couple shares their story as COVID-19 clinical trial participants
Released: 2-Dec-2020 2:35 PM EST
“This is how we can help” – Couple shares their story as COVID-19 clinical trial participants
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

“I don’t feel so great,” my husband, Brandon, said to me one Saturday afternoon – the last thing I wanted to hear after spending the last seven months tuned into COVID-19 media coverage. Knowing a few of his co-workers had recently tested positive for the virus, we didn’t wait to secure an appointment for a rapid test. When he called me an hour later to tell me he has tested positive, my heart sank.

Released: 2-Dec-2020 2:35 PM EST
IPC Statement On SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines And Psoriasis
International Psoriasis Council

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to have a considerable impact on the provision of appropriate care to people with psoriasis.

Newswise: 250245_web.jpg
Released: 2-Dec-2020 2:05 PM EST
Differences in immunity and blood vessels likely protect children from severe COVID-19
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Differences in the immune systems and better blood vessel health were among the factors protecting children from severe COVID-19, according to a new review.

Newswise: Telemedicine Use During COVID-19 Shows Access Disparity Among Head and Neck Cancer Patients
Released: 2-Dec-2020 1:30 PM EST
Telemedicine Use During COVID-19 Shows Access Disparity Among Head and Neck Cancer Patients
Henry Ford Health System

Retrospective research by Henry Ford otolaryngologists found telemedicine use disparity among head and neck cancer patients during start of COVID-19 pandemic.


Showing results

110 of 4191

close
0.96334