Restoring memory function in Alzheimer's disease may now be possible

A study now finds that a new approach to Alzheimer's disease (AD) may eventually make it possible to reverse memory loss, a hallmark of the disease in its later stages. The study was published in the journal Brain. The research, led by University at Buffalo, scientists found that by focusing on gene changes caused by influences other than DNA sequences - called epigenetics - it was possible to reverse memory decline in an animal model of AD. Speaking about it, senior author Zhen Yan said: "In this paper, we have not only identified the epigenetic factors that contribute to the memory loss, we also found ways to temporarily reverse them in an animal model of AD". The research was conducted on mouse models carrying gene mutations for familial AD - where more than one member of a family has the disease - and on post-mortem brain tissues from AD patients. Yan further added, "We found that in Alzheimer's disease, many subunits of glutamate receptors in the frontal cortex are down regulated, disrupting the excitatory signals, which impairs working memory." The researchers found that the loss of glutamate receptors is the result of an epigenetic process known as repressive histone modification, which is elevated in AD. They saw this both in the animal models they studied and in post-mortem tissue of AD patients.