JERUSALEM, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Israeli scientists discovered how oxytocin, known as the "love hormone," is restocked in the brain, the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) said Monday.
Oxytocin is responsible, for example, for a burst of happiness with parents gazing at their newborn baby or a loving couple exchanging glances.
However, oxytocin is not only a hormone of love but also plays a role in normal social interaction, birth and breastfeeding, control of stress and appetite and more.
In the WIS study published in the journal eLife, the scientists discovered how oxytocin is restocked in the brain's dispatch stations, from which it is excreted into the bloodstream.
The researchers studied the brains of tiny transparent zebrafish, for which, as in humans, the hormone is packed in special lipid capsules, or vesicles, which make their way into nodes called synapses.
Indeed, it was found that in a saline environment, oxytocin was rapidly released from the vesicles in the synapses, and it was replenished when the salt was washed out.
In other experiments, the researchers discovered other molecules that affect vesicles buildup, and thus play a role in the renewal of oxytocin.
"Since there are indications that abnormalities in oxytocin's action, or its lack, are involved in autism, these findings will hopefully provide new avenues for research into this disorder," the researchers concluded.