As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: September 11, 2012
by Jon Bardin for Los Angeles Times:
In what could lead to a new group of targets for the treatment of memory loss disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have identified a group of molecules that appear to be required for the transition from a short-term to a long-term memory.
The molecules, called nuclear receptors, belong to a class of proteins called transcription factors that play a central role in gene expression. The proteins bind to DNA and help regulate which genes are expressed at a given time.
Previous research had suggested that nuclear receptors were somehow involved in memory formation, and the new study confirms that the loss of these proteins prevents long-term memories from forming.
People with memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease tend to lose a particular form of memory called contextual memory-the association of a particular event with its larger context, like the location in which it occurred (a classic example is forgetting where you put your keys). This form of memory relies on a brain structure called the hippocampus.
In the new study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania first sought to determine which of the 49 known types of nuclear receptors were involved in long-term memory formation. After teaching a mouse to connect a shock to a particular cage — a typical approach to teaching a mouse a contextual memory called “fear conditioning” — the scientists looked to see whether the amount of any of the nuclear receptors in the hippocampus went up. They found that a set of them did — in particular, a class of nuclear receptors called Nr4a. This suggested that Nr4a proteins were somehow involved in consolidating a new memory.
The researchers then created genetically altered mice in which they could selectively block Nr4a proteins in the hippocampus, and performed the shock-cage task on them as well. When they did this, they found that the mice had a less robust memory of where the shock took place. But other types of memories not dependent on the hippocampus-like the memory of an auditory tone paired with a shock, which is processed in another brain structure called the amygdala — worked just fine. The mice also had normal short-term memory.
The results suggest that Nr4a nuclear receptors are essential for long-term memory formation, and that pharmaceutical approaches that boost the function of these proteins — and the molecular machinery they set in motion — could one day restore memory function in those who have lost it.
The study was published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Picture: Neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain crucial for memory. A new study has discovered a group of molecules that may be essential for memory formation. (AFP/Getty Images)
Thirty-six million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In Canada, 25,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Those sobering numbers have researchers around the globe racing to come up with new ways to...
he Food and Drug Administration issued new guides on drug development for neurological disorders. This sets the stage for possible treatments for Alzheimer’s. The disease-oriented development guide documents will provide details on how researchers...
For young adults with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (AD), molecular markers can identify changes associated with the disease before clinical onset, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in JAMA Neurology. Yakeel T. Quiroz, Ph.D., from Massachusetts...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.