Protein restores learning, memory in Alzheimer's mouse model

December 13, 2010, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tonybr777
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
Sign me up

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.