T cell protein boosts learning

May 03, 2010

Stress, sickness and depression can generate inflammation in the brain, which is detrimental to learning. According to a new study that will appear online on May 3rd in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, T cells level the learning curve by producing a protein that combats inflammation, establishing a more learning-conducive environment in the brain.

Learning defects had been reported in mice lacking , but how these cells boosted brain power was unknown. A team led by Jonathan Kipnis (University of Virginia, Charlottesville) investigated the activity of these cells in mice trained to find their way through a water maze. Training the mice caused T cells to accumulate in the membrane that surrounds the brain. Once there, the cells produced a protein called interleukin-4 (IL-4), which reduced the abundance of inflammatory proteins known to hinder learning. Mice lacking IL-4 had a hard time navigating the maze, but their learning disability could be reversed by giving them IL-4-producing T cells.

It's not yet clear if IL-4 has similar effects in humans. If so, these findings could impact the design of new therapies aimed at boosting learning and memory in children with learning disabilities or adults with age-related .

Explore further: Monitoring the rise and fall of the microbiome

More information: Derecki, N.C., et al. 2010. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20091419

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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.

Researchers identify a protein critical for memory, learning

Feb 24, 2009

Researchers from the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) have made a breakthrough discovery that may eventually change the way physicians approach treatment of learning and memory defects ...

Recommended for you

New technology allows hair to reflect almost any color

2 hours ago

What if you could alter your hair to reflect any color in the spectrum? What if you could use a flatiron to press a pattern into your new hair color? Those are possibilities suggested by researchers from ...

Monitoring the rise and fall of the microbiome

10 hours ago

Trillions of bacteria live in each person's digestive tract. Scientists believe that some of these bacteria help digest food and stave off harmful infections, but their role in human health is not well understood.

User comments : 0