Scientists at the Center for Learning and Memory, Tsinghua University, Beijing, have demonstrated a novel therapy for reversing memory decline in mice with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). By increasing brain magnesium levels, they found significant cognitive improvement in advanced stage AD mice. The study is the first to demonstrate a mechanism for reversing cognitive decline for advanced stage AD mice, as well as showing an effective long-term treatment for early stage AD mice.
“We found that the elevation of brain magnesium may prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease model mice,” said Dr. Guosong Liu, Magceutics founder, professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, and senior investigator on the study.
The report, that appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, (Li, W., et al., Reversing cognitive deficits and synaptic loss in Alzheimer's mouse model by elevating brain magnesium. J Neurosci, 2013. 33(19): p8423-41.), shows that a recently developed Magnesium L-Threonate compoundmay prevent cognitive impairment when administered to mice with early stage AD. The treatment was shown to remain effective for at least 16 months. Additionally, it significantly improved memory and cognition when given to advanced stage AD mice.
Dr. Liu and his colleagues believe the loss of neuronal connections in brain regions critical for memory function is a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Preventing those losses can lead to new treatment options.
In earlier studies, researchers revealed that the elevation of brain magnesium can selectively reduce background calcium signaling in the hippocampus, the brain region controlling memory, and thereby enhance synaptic plasticity and density. Further work by Dr. Liu and colleagues demonstrated that elevating magnesium can reverse memory decline in aging rats.
The newstudy builds on those findings and sheds light on the mechanism by which increased magnesium levels may act to protect from brain neurodegeneration. To explore the protective mechanism, they investigated major signaling pathways critical for synapse function and memory formation. They found that elevated Aß leads to widespread activation of calcium-dependent signaling molecules that contribute to neuronal degeneration. The compound can prevent this type of degeneration by reducing the non-specific calcium activation.
“This study demonstrated a totally different approach for prevention and reversion of Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of continued stimulation of the neural cells as most of the drugs do, Magnesium L-Threonate compound lets the cell rest by preventing the non-specific activation, attempting to reverse the aging brain to its youthful condition,” commented Jennifer Gu, PhD, AIDP vice president of research and development.
The study was supported by grants from the National Basic Research Program of China and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Magceutics plans to launch a clinical trial in conjunction with Stanford University in late 2013, to determine whether Magnesium L-Threonate compound can reverse memory decline for human patients with Alzheimer’s disease.