The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

August 29, 2013

Scientists find clue to age-related memory loss

WASHINGTON — Scientists have found a compelling clue in the quest to learn what causes age-related memory problems, and to one day be able to tell if those misplaced car keys are just a senior moment or an early warning of something worse.

Wednesday’s report offers evidence that age-related memory loss really is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer’s — and offers a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center examined brains, young and old ones, donated from people who died without signs of neurologic disease. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, quits working properly in older people. It produces less of a key protein.

That section of the brain, called the dentate gyrus, has long been suspected of being especially vulnerable to aging. Importantly, it’s a different neural neighborhood than where Alzheimer’s begins to form.

But it’s circumstantial evidence that having less of that protein, named RbAp48, affects memory loss in older adults. So the researchers took a closer look at mice, which become forgetful as they age in much the same way that people do.

Sure enough, cutting levels of the protein made healthy young rodents lose their way in mazes and perform worse on other memory tasks just like old mice naturally do.

More intriguing, the memory loss was reversible: Boosting the protein made forgetful old mice as sharp as the youngsters again, the researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“It’s the best evidence so far” that age-related memory loss isn’t the same as early Alzheimer’s, said Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, who led the Columbia University team.

And since some people make it to 100 without showing much of a cognitive slowdown, the work begs another question: “Is that normal aging, or is it a deterioration that we’re allowing to occur?” Kandel said.

“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.”

This is early-stage research that will require years of additional work to confirm, cautioned Dr. Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, who wasn’t involved with the report.

But Wagster said the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting “that we’re not all on the road to Alzheimer’s disease” after we pass a certain age.

For example, other researchers have found that connections between neurons in other parts of the brain weaken with normal aging, making it harder but not impossible to retrieve memories. In contrast, Alzheimer’s kills neurons.

How does Wednesday’s research fit? Many pathways make up a smoothly functioning memory, and that protein plays a role in turning a short-term memory — like where you left those car keys — into a longer-term one, Kandel explained.

Some good news: Scientists already know that exercise makes the dentate gyrus — that age-targeted spot in the hippocampus — function better, Small said. He’s also studying if nutrition might make a difference.

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

  • Veteran's Ducks Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks

    An Army veteran who hurt his back during the Iraq War is worried a citation will result in him losing his 14 pet ducks, which he says are therapeutic.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stacked Apartment.jpg New York building shows how mod design stacks up as cool

    In a city piled high with ambitious architecture, a seven-floor structure off the beaten path boasts a distinction of its own: It’s billed as the first multistory, modular-built apartment building to open in the nation’s apartment capital.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

    The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price Sunday: It killed 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forced thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their neighborhood, reportedly used to launch rockets at Israel and now devastated by the fighting.

    July 21, 2014

  • Traditional lottery games hold their own

    Ohio’s traditional lottery games are mostly doing well despite competition from their electronic counterparts at four racinos.

    July 20, 2014

  • HIV diagnosis rate fell by third in U.S. over decade

    The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States each year fell by one-third over the past decade, a government study finds. Experts celebrated it as hopeful news that the AIDS epidemic may be slowing in the U.S.

    July 20, 2014

  • Suddenly, the sun is eerily quiet: Where did the sunspots go?

    The sun has gone quiet. Almost too quiet.

    July 20, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.

    July 19, 2014

  • Israeli bulldozers destroy Hamas tunnels in Gaza

     Israeli bulldozers on Saturday demolished more than a dozen tunnels the military said were being used by Hamas gunmen to sneak beneath the southern border of the Jewish state and carry out attacks on its soldiers and civilians.

    July 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video