Published on: June 22, 2015
by DNA India:
An experimental drug that mimics a hunger-signalling hormone can protect memory in mice with Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have found.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that long-term administration of a drug that mimics the hormone ghrelin protected Alzheimer’s disease-model mice from memory deterioration, despite a high-glycemic-index (GI) diet.
In previous research, Inga Kadish and colleagues had shown that long-term (four months) administration of the ghrelin agonist – an experimental drug from Eli Lilly and Company that binds to the ghrelin receptor and produces an even greater response than ghrelin – protected Alzheimer’s disease-model mice from memory deterioration.
The current paper expanded that research by including a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the high-GI diet. “With chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s, you need to do a long-term study,” said Kadish, an assistant professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, UAB School of Medicine. “So we did the long-term experiment with the worst-case scenario, a high-GI diet. Alzheimer’s disease has 10 or 20 risk factors, and some of the strongest risk factors are diabetes or metabolic syndrome,” Kadish said.
In contrast to short-term administration of the ghrelin agonist drug – which impairs insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, which are signs of metabolic syndrome and diabetes – the researchers found that the long-term ghrelin agonist treatment did not impair insulin signalling and glucose tolerance in Alzheimer’s disease mice fed a high GI diet.
The test mice fed with the ghrelin agonist and the high-GI diet showed long-term cognitive enhancement in this water maze test, as compared to the mice fed with a normal diet or high-GI diet only. The test mice also showed more activity and reduced body weight and fat mass. The test mice also showed a beneficial impact of the long-term ghrelin agonist treatment on insulin signalling pathways in hippocampal brain tissue.
Alzheimer’s patients show significant shrinkage of the hippocampus, a part of the brain cortex that has a key role in forming new memories. “The present results suggest that ghrelin might improve cognition in Alzheimer’s disease via a central nervous system mechanism involving insulin signalling,” researchers said in the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Although it’s great to celebrate the big achievements, it’s also important to celebrate the small wins.
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