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Calcium channel blockers may be effective in treating memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.



Calcium inhibitors may be effective in treating memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Treat diseased brain cells with calcium channel blockers. Credit: University of Bristol

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, but changes in brain cell function underlying memory loss remain poorly understood. Researchers at the University of Bristol have determined that calcium channel blockers could be effective at treating memory loss.

The results of the team, published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, found that treating a diseased brain cell with an L-type channel blocker reduced the number of calcium ions that could enter the brain cell.

The researchers used fruit flies to study AD, with the help of a fluorescent molecule called GCaMP6f, which indicates the amount of calcium ions in brain cells.

They discovered that diseased brain cells were overloaded with calcium ions, which at normal levels is important for memory formation. This overload was due to the overproduction of the gene encoding a channel, called the L-type channel, which allows calcium ions to enter the cell from the outside. A larger number of these channels means that a greater number of calcium ions can enter the cell, thus disrupting memory formation. The use of a drug to block the L-type channel has reversed the effect of the disease and reduces the flow of calcium ions to a normal level.

The research team also studied the memory of fruit flies by checking if they could remember which of the two smells had already been associated with an electric shock – similar to Pavlov's experiments with dogs.

While healthy flies were fond of it, sick flies, like humans, showed an alteration of memory. However, if the overproduction of L-type channels was corrected in sick flies, their brain cells were no longer overloaded with calcium ions and their memory was as good as that of healthy flies. This shows that the loss of memory is probably due to calcium overload because too many L-type channels are created and, if corrected, memory problems are saved.

Dr. James Hodge, associate professor of neuroscience at the Faculty of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, said, "Memory loss in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an extremely painful and difficult symptom to treat. early changes in the function of brain cells they begin to degenerate – can be effective in treating memory loss.

"L-type channels have been thought to have a role in AD for some time now, and this study shows a direct link between memory loss and overproduction of L-type channels in brain cells."

Blocking these channels in men with AD may be beneficial in the treatment of memory disorders. The results show that more work needs to be done to determine the underlying mechanism for memory recovery and to determine whether team research will prove effective in humans.


Calcium is the key to age-related memory loss


More information:
James P. Higham et al. Restoration of Olfactive Memory in Drosophila Overexpressing Tau Associated with Human Alzheimer's Disease by Manipulation of Ca2 + L-type Channels, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience (2019). DOI: 10.3389 / fncel.2019.00409

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Calcium channel blockers may be effective in treating memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease (September 11, 2019).
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