Novel molecule promotes the neuronal structures associated with memory to grow.
The current study utilised treated neurons from a part of the brain critical to forming and retrieving memories with their new compounds they saw an increase in the density of dendritic spines. Results show that time-lapse imaging of dissociated hippocampal neuronal cultures shows that these compounds promote a net increase in spine density through the formation of new spines. Data findings show that an increase in spine density can persist for days in the presence of these compounds, and returns to normal spine density levels within 24 hours when the compounds are removed, demonstrating the capability to reversibly control spinogenic activity.
Results show that the new compounds prevented the loss of these spines that occurs in the presence of amyloid-beta, the substance that forms amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Data findings show that the greater the concentration of the drug candidate, the greater the density of spines within the range of doses tested. The lab note that the effect is also reversible and once the compounds were washed away, the spines receded within 24-hours.
The team surmise that the compounds they have developed may offer the possibility to compensate, or ideally preserve, neuronal communication in people suffering from problems with memory. They go on to add that it is known from a wealth of prior research that spine densities on neurons change over time and that increases in the densities correlate with improved memory and learning. For the future, the researchers state that as potential drugs, benzothiazole amphiphiles could be useful for combatting spine loss in neurodegenerative disease, or possibly for general cognitive enhancement.