Treatment 'reverses' Alzheimer's in mice

8 May 2009

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Category: Research & medical benefits

alzheimer–brain–scan.jpgA team of scientists studying mice has pinpointed a gene involved in memory impairment, such as that seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

The HDAC (histone deacetylase) family has long been implicated in learning and memory, and inhibitors of the family have been shown to improve learning. However the specific mechanisms behind this improvement were unknown. The team were interested in the effects of the HDAC1 and HDAC2 members of the family in mice.

Initial studies involved two groups of mice bred to over-produce either HDAC1 or 2. Results showed that increased HDAC2 expression caused impaired memory formation, but increased HDAC1 showed no effect. They then bred a group of mice that did not express HDAC2, and saw that memory formation was enhanced in comparison to normal mice. They concluded that HDAC2 impairs memory formation.

When the mice bred to over-produce HDAC2 were injected with a HDAC inhibitor, they showed an increase in memory function. Memory enhancement seen previously using these inhibitors must be due mainly to the inhibition of HDAC2, rather than the other members of the family. 

Further work will include designing more specific inhibitors for HDAC2. These could improve learning and memory function in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

More on Alzheimer's disease research at