Deficient levels of brain protein may actually fuel age related forgetfulness, researchers claim.
Researchers have identified the brain protein, called RbAp48, that helps form memories. While optimum levels of the protein helped in maintaining a healthy memory, deficient levels led to forgetfulness, researchers averred.
For the purpose of the study, researchers examined postmortem brains of eight disease-free people ages 33 to 88 years for function of 17 genes in a part of the hippocampus, brain area involved in memory.
Researchers found strongest links in a gene that expressed protein RbAp48. To further check if deficient levels of protein RbAp48 lead to age related memory loss, researchers embarked a mice trail.
For the mice trail, a group of healthy young genetically engineered mice were used. When the mice were suppressed of the gene the mice performed worse on object recognition and water maze tests. However, when the gene function was allowed to go back to normal function, the mice’s memory improved.
Researchers also tried putting an extra copy of the RbAp48 gene in the brain of older mice. The extra copies triggered production of associated protein in the hippocampus, leading to increased cognitive tests performance.
The findings thus confirm that age-related memory loss is not the same as early Alzheimer’s, Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, who led the Columbia University team, averred.
The findings pave way for protein based drugs that can cut down on memory slowdown.
“As we want to live longer and stay engaged in a cognitively complex world, I think even mild age-related memory decline is meaningful,” added Columbia neurologist Dr. Scott Small, a senior author of the study. “It opens up a whole avenue of investigation to now try to identify interventions.”
The findings of the study are reported today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.