Protein restores learning, memory in Alzheimer's mouse model

Dec 13, 2010
Salvatore Oddo, Ph.D., is appointed in the Department of Physiology and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Credit: UT Health Science Center San Antonio

Scientists at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio restored learning and memory in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model by increasing a protein called CBP. Salvatore Oddo, Ph.D., of the university's Department of Physiology and Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, said this is the first proof that boosting CBP, which triggers the production of other proteins essential to creating memories, can reverse Alzheimer's effects.

The finding, reported this week in , provides a novel therapeutic target for development of Alzheimer's medications, Dr. Oddo said. Alzheimer's and other dementias currently impair 5.3 million Americans, including more than 340,000 Texans.

In patients with , accumulation of a protein called amyloid-β (Aβ) blocks memory formation by destroying synapses, the sites where neurons share information. Autopsies of the brains of some Alzheimer's patients also reveal tangles caused by a protein called tau.

Enhancing CBP does not alter the Aβ or tau physiology but operates on a different recovery mechanism: It restores activity of a protein called CREB and increases levels of another called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

"One way by which CBP could work is by setting off a domino effect among proteins that carry signals from the synapse to the nucleus of the neuron," Dr. Oddo said. "Getting signals to the nucleus is necessary for long-term memory."

The research team engineered a harmless virus to deliver CBP to the hippocampus in the temporal lobe. The hippocampus is the brain's key structure for learning and memory. At 6 months of age, when the CBP delivery took place, the specially bred mice were at the onset of Alzheimer's-like deficits. Learning and memory were evaluated in a water maze that required mice to remember the location of an exit platform. The mice treated with CBP were compared to diseased mice that received only placebo and to normal, healthy control mice.

Efficiency in escaping the maze served as signs of and memory. In the Alzheimer's , performance of the Alzheimer's mice treated with enhanced CBP was identical to the healthy mice, whereas the placebo-treated Alzheimer's mice lagged far behind.

Explore further: Goat to be cloned to treat rare genetic disorder

Provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

4.5 /5 (12 votes)

Related Stories

Amyloid beta protein gets bum rap

Nov 09, 2009

While too much amyloid beta protein in the brain is linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, not enough of the protein in healthy brains can cause learning problems and forgetfulness, Saint Louis University scientists ...

Cancer drug enhances long-term memory

Jun 05, 2007

A drug used to treat cancer has been shown to enhance long-term memory and strengthen neural connections in the brain, according to a new study by UC Irvine scientists.

A link between obesity and memory?

Jun 14, 2006

Scientists have wondered why obese patients who have diabetes also may have problems with their long-term memory. New Saint Louis University research in this month's Peptides provides a clue.

Recommended for you

Researchers transplant regenerated oesophagus

20 hours ago

Tissue engineering has been used to construct natural oesophagi, which in combination with bone marrow stem cells have been safely and effectively transplanted in rats. The study, published in Nature Communications, shows ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tonybr777
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
Sign me up

More news stories

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...