Question Corner | Can age-related memory loss be reversed?


Scientists at Cambridge and Leeds have successfully reversed age-related memory loss in mice and say their discovery could lead to the development of treatments to prevent memory loss in people as they age.

The researchers show that changes in the extracellular matrix of the brain – 'scaffolding' around nerve cells – lead to loss of memory with ageing, but that it is possible to reverse these (Molecular Psychiatry).

Recent evidence has emerged of the role of perineuronal nets (PNNs) in neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and adapt – make memories. The main function of PNNs is to control the level of plasticity in the brain. They appear at around five years of age in humans. Then, as one ages, plasticity is partially turned off, making the brain more efficient but less plastic.

The researchers investigated whether manipulating the composition of the PNNs might restore neuroplasticity and alleviate age-related memory deficits. They used old mice for their studies.

The team has already identified a potential drug, licensed for human use, that can be taken orally, which inhibits the formation of PNNs. When this compound is given to mice and rats it can restore memory in ageing and also improves recovery in spinal cord injury. The researchers are investigating whether it might help alleviate memory loss in animal models of Alzheimer's disease.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 4:00:19 AM |

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