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Memory Protein Fades With Age
Science Magazine ^ | 2013-08-28 18:00 | Amanda Mascarelli

Posted on 08/29/2013 10:58:26 AM PDT by Red Badger

It’s an inconvenient truth of aging: In our 30s and up, it gets increasingly harder for most of us to recall names, faces, and details from the past. Scientists have long debated whether this gradual decline is an early form of Alzheimer’s disease—a neurodegenerative condition that leads to severe dementia—or a distinct neurological process. Now, researchers have found a protein that distinguishes typical forgetfulness from Alzheimer’s and could lead to potential treatments for age-related memory loss.

Previous studies have shown that Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss involve different neural circuits in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure in the brain where memories are formed and organized. The hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s disease are well established—tangled proteins and plaques accumulate over time, and brain tissue atrophies. But little is known about what occurs when memory declines during normal aging, except that brain cells begin to malfunction, says Scott Small, a neurologist at Columbia University and senior author to the study. “At the molecular level, there’s been a lot of uncertainty about what is actually going wrong, and that’s what this paper isolates.”

To tease apart the biological processes involved in memory loss in normal aging, Small and other researchers from Columbia University in New York examined postmortem brain tissue from eight healthy people ranging in age from 33 to 86. They looked for differences in gene expression—the proteins or other products that a gene makes—between younger and older people. They also looked for age-related changes in the brains of mice.

One gene in particular reduced its expression by about 50% with age in both human tissue and in rodents, the researchers report today in Science Translational Medicine. The gene codes for a protein called RbAp48 that regulates gene expression in a part of the hippocampus, called the dentate gyrus, which has been implicated in normal memory loss. A separate region of the hippocampus known to be the point of onset for Alzheimer's disease showed no differences in expression of the age-related gene.

Next, the team tested whether the steep decline in the production of RbAp48 could play a role in the memory loss associated with aging. In young mice bred to inhibit production of the RbAp48 protein, the researchers were able to show cognitive deficits that they say resemble those seen in older mice and elderly humans, such as difficulty recognizing objects and navigation.

Finally, the team showed that by increasing the level of RbAp48 in old mice, they could restore memory function to levels similar to that of young mice.

The new study demonstrates that “this molecular deficiency that we observe in humans truly contributes to age-related memory loss,” Small says. The researchers aren’t entirely sure what role RbAp48 plays in memory, but Small suspects that it is key to the successful functioning of synapses—bridges between nerve cells that transmit chemical and electrical signals, facilitating learning and memory. Why the protein declines with age is still a mystery, he says.

So far, physical exercise is one treatment that has been shown to improve the function of the dentate gyrus and to slow memory loss from aging, Small says. The new study points the way toward therapeutic targets that might one day help turn back the clock on the memory loss, he says.

The new study is “very impressive” and an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the molecular mechanisms of age-related memory loss, says Molly Wagster, chief of the Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland. But she cautions that it involved a limited number of brain tissues and focused solely on one brain region, noting that other brain regions could also play an important role in age-related memory decline. Further efforts will be needed to see if what the group has seen in rodents translates to humans, she says.


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Science
KEYWORDS: alzheimers; brain; dementia; memory; memoryloss; memoryprotein
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1 posted on 08/29/2013 10:58:27 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Don’t be ridiculous. I’m 60 and I can remember everything I ever...uh...what was the question again?


2 posted on 08/29/2013 11:00:47 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Red Badger

What did you say?


3 posted on 08/29/2013 11:00:50 AM PDT by freeagle
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To: Red Badger

I’d be happier if I could replace that “protein” by eating it instead of exercising. :)


4 posted on 08/29/2013 11:02:42 AM PDT by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like it)
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To: Red Badger

A protein. I wonder if that means a protein supplement will be useful...

Protein means eating animals. I’m for it.


5 posted on 08/29/2013 11:04:07 AM PDT by Old Sarge (Opinions are like orgasms: only mine count, and I couldn't care less if you have one...)
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To: freeangel

I expect that as a result of this study there will be tons of radio and TV ads blathering on about their ‘new’ product that has oodles of this protein for your consumption..............


6 posted on 08/29/2013 11:05:28 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Old Sarge

7 posted on 08/29/2013 11:06:12 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Red Badger

I’m 61 and remember my first day of kindergarten but I can’t seem to locate my keys.


8 posted on 08/29/2013 11:06:13 AM PDT by dainbramaged (Joe McCarthy was right.)
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To: Red Badger

What was I going to write?


9 posted on 08/29/2013 11:06:33 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Don't blame me for McCain.)
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To: dainbramaged

I remember mine, too, but I can’t find my glasses............oh, they’re on top of my head!.................


10 posted on 08/29/2013 11:07:31 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Red Badger

Ormus stops it.


11 posted on 08/29/2013 11:09:14 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I'm a Conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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To: Red Badger

I never claimed to have “photographic” memory, but I’ve always had an ability to remember just about everything I’ve read, and most of what I’ve seen and heard. My friends are astounded with my ability to recall details of seemingly insignificant events from 30 years ago. I can still remember the Chicago Cubs roster and lineup from 1984, and most of the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XII championship roster.

However, at age 53, I am noticing that while my long term memory of those long ago events remains pretty much intact, my ability to process short-term memory into long term memory has declined. Not much, but it is noticeable.


12 posted on 08/29/2013 11:12:15 AM PDT by henkster (If the Feds create an unlimited demand for bastard children, you get an unlimited supply of them.)
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To: Red Badger

I can remember anything...even if it didn’t happen.


13 posted on 08/29/2013 11:15:45 AM PDT by Bobalu (Bobo the Wonder Marxist leads Operation Rodeo Clown against Syria)
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To: Red Badger

It seems to me that, uh. I’ll have to get back to you.


14 posted on 08/29/2013 11:16:00 AM PDT by Gamecock (Many Atheists take the stand: "There is no God AND I hate Him.")
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To: henkster

Those things that interested you from long ago were permanently stored, and strongly so. Those bonds will fade over time as well, but will take longer to do so.

Short-term memory fades quicker because the necessary protein is less abundant to facilitate it............


15 posted on 08/29/2013 11:16:05 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Ormus or IMUS?................


16 posted on 08/29/2013 11:16:43 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Red Badger

Ormus.


17 posted on 08/29/2013 11:17:07 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I'm a Conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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To: Red Badger

If RbAp48 is short for “roast beef and pork” then bring it on.


18 posted on 08/29/2013 11:22:53 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine

Ormus makes you remember. Imus makes you not want to.............


19 posted on 08/29/2013 11:26:19 AM PDT by Red Badger (It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. .....Voltaire)
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To: Red Badger

ROFLMAO! Now why was I laughing?


20 posted on 08/29/2013 11:29:33 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I'm a Conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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