First links between Oxytocin and Anandamide are found

First links between Oxytocin and Anandamide are found

The University of California-Irvine researchers have found first links between oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, and a chemical anandamide that acts on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. A new study on anandamide, called the ‘bliss molecule’, was conducted by the university's Daniele Piomelli and his colleagues.

The findings are the first of their kind, and have been published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Anandamide is given name after the Sanskrit word for ‘joy, bliss, delight’. It is a naturally occurring endocannabinoid that is a part of heightening motivation and happiness.

A group of chemicals that work at the same brain cell receptors as the active ingredient in cannabis- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are known as Endocannabinoids. They have been implicated in many roles, such as pain-sensation, appetite, mood and memory.

Founding director of the Drug Discovery and Development Department at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, Piomelli and his team of researchers noted down anandamide levels in mice that were either been permitted to interact with one another or placed in isolation.

They discovered that the mice that had the permission to interact socially showed raised anandamide levels in a brain structure, known as the nucleus accumbens. This portion of the brain forms part of the basal ganglia and is believed to play a key role in many responses and emotions, like motivation, pleasure and reward.

The increase in anandamide induced experimentally was found to strengthen the pleasure of socialization. On the other hand, when experimenters blocked the cannabinoid receptors in order to prevent anandamide from binding to them, this reinforcement disappeared.

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