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publicado em 22/12/2011 às 12h00:00
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Neurotransmitter acetylcholine explains memory loss in Alzheimer's patient

Compost can weaken synaptic connections between neurons in the brain region linked to the formation of long-term memories

 
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Researchers have found a chemical in the brain that may explain the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease. Professor of Cellular Neuroscience Zafar Bashir and colleagues at the University of Bristol, UK, found that acetylcholine can weaken synaptic connections between neurons in a brain region important for the formation of long-term memories.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter released in the brain, and has an important role in the functioning of normal brain activity, such as sleep, attention, learning and memory. So far, however, the mechanisms by which the transmitter controls such processes remain poorly understood.

<b> molecular cascade </ b>

The researchers showed how acetylcholine controls the communication between neurons located in the prefrontal cortex. This is important to understand how complex cognitive processes are controlled in this important area of ​​the brain.

When acetylcholine is released, it binds to specific receptors and initiates a molecular cascade that triggers physiological changes in how the prefrontal cortical neurons connect to each other. The findings suggest that a persistent weakening of synaptic connections between neurons, induced by the release of acetylcholine in the prefrontal cortex may underlie the formation of new associative memories.

<b> synaptic plasticity </ b>

The authors speculate that the memory deficits associated with dementia caused by Alzheimer's may result in part from the loss of synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal cortex related to depletion of acetylcholine in the brain caused by disease.

Douglas Caruana, responsible for the experiments, said that disruptions in cholinergic signaling in prefrontal cortex are known to affect how the brain encodes lasting associations between objects and places. "The depletion of certain levels of acetylcholine in the brain is a classic feature of Alzheimer's dementia," he said.

According to Bashir, the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are widely used as medication for the treatment of individuals with Alzheimer's dementia. "The enhancement of synaptic plasticity by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, we demonstrated in this study may be a way for these drugs have clinical efficacy," he said.

Source: FAPESP
   Palavras-chave:   Alzheimer's disease    Acetylcholine    A neurotransmitter    Neurons    Zafar Bashir   
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