Feeding fruit flies with spermidin suppresses age-dependent memory impairment

September 2, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Age-induced memory impairment can be suppressed by administration of the natural substance spermidin. This was found in a recent study conducted by Prof. Dr. Stephan Sigrist from Freie Universität Berlin and the Neurocure Cluster of Excellence and Prof. Dr. Frank Madeo from Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. Both biologists, they were able to show that the endogenous substance spermidine triggers a cellular cleansing process, which is followed by an improvement in the memory performance of older fruit flies. At the molecular level, memory processes in animal organisms such as fruit flies and mice are similar to those in humans. The work by Sigrist and Madeo has potential for developing substances for treating age-related memory impairment. The study was first published in the online version of Nature Neuroscience.

Aggregated proteins are potential candidates for causing age-related dementia. With increasing age, the proteins accumulate in the brains of , mice, and humans. In 2009 Madeo's group in Graz already found that the spermidin molecule has an anti-aging effect by setting off autophagy, a cleaning process at the cellular level. Protein aggregates and other cellular waste are delivered to lysosomes, the digestive apparatus in cells, and degraded.

Feeding the fruit flies spermidin significantly reduced the amount of in their brains, and their memories improved to juvenile levels. This can be measured because flies can learn under classical Pavovian conditioning and adjust their behavior accordingly.

In humans, memory capacity decreases beginnning around the age of 50. This loss accelerates with increasing age. Due to increasing life expectancy, age-related is expected to increase drastically. The spermidine concentration increases with age in flies as in humans. If it were possible to delay the onset of age-related dementia by giving individuals spermidin as a food supplement, it would be a great breakthrough for individuals and for society. Patient studies are the next step for Sigrist and Madeo.

NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence in the neurosciences at Charité ? Universitätsmedizin Berlin working in collaboration with the departments of biology and biochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as well as with three independent research institutions.

Explore further: Scientists shed light on age-related memory loss and possible treatments

More information: Varun K Gupta, Lisa Scheunemann, Tobias Eisenberg, Sara Mertel, Anuradha Bhukel, Tom S Koemans, Jamie M Kramer, Karen S Y Liu, Sabrina Schroeder, Hendrik G Stunnenberg, Frank Sinner, Christoph Magnes, Thomas R Pieber, Shubham Dipt, André Fiala, Annette Schenck, Martin Schwaerzel, Frank Madeo & Stephan J Sigrist (2013): Restoring polyamines protects from age-induced memory impairment in an autophagy-dependent manner, Nature Neuroscience, Advance Online Publication, 1 September 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nn.3512.

Related Stories

Researchers identify 'switch' for long-term memory

July 9, 2013

Neurobiologists at Heidelberg University have identified calcium in the cell nucleus to be a cellular "switch" responsible for the formation of long-term memory. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model, the ...

Recommended for you

The brain clock that keeps memories ticking

May 30, 2016

Just as members of an orchestra need a conductor to stay on tempo, neurons in the brain need well-timed waves of activity to organize memories across time. In the hippocampus—the brain's memory center—temporal ordering ...

Fish courtship pheromone uses the brain's smell pathway

May 30, 2016

Research at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan has revealed that a molecule involved in fish reproduction activates the brain via the nose. The pheromone is released by female zebrafish and sensed by smell receptors ...

Effects of maternal smoking continue long after birth

May 30, 2016

Early exposure to nicotine can trigger widespread genetic changes that affect formation of connections between brain cells long after birth, a new Yale-led study has found. The finding helps explains why maternal smoking ...

Study identifies how brain connects memories across time

May 23, 2016

Using a miniature microscope that opens a window into the brain, UCLA neuroscientists have identified in mice how the brain links different memories over time. While aging weakens these connections, the team devised a way ...

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

May 25, 2016

A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses—the connections that allow neurons to communicate with each other.

Teen brains facilitate recovery from traumatic memories

May 25, 2016

Unique connections in the adolescent brain make it possible to easily diminish fear memories and avoid anxiety later in life, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. The findings may have important ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.