Memory impairment and mood changes are typically observed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease but what disturbs these neuronal functions is unclear. Some researchers have proposed that alterations in the production of new neurons in the brain, or neurogenesis, may be involved; however, whether neurogenesis happens in humans, much less those with Alzheimer’s disease, has been debated. A discovery published today in the journal Cell Reports provides a possible explanation for this debate and may shed light on what happens in Alzheimer’s disease.
Working with animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, a team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that seizures that are associated with the disease both in animal models and humans alter the normal dynamics of neurogenesis in adult brains. Administering anti-seizure medication restored neurogenesis and improved performance in a spatial discrimination task.
“Whether neurogenesis is altered at all in patients with Alzheimer’s disease is a controversial topic in the field. While some groups present evidence supporting a decrease in neurogenesis, others claim that it increases or that there is no change,” said corresponding author Dr. Jeannie Chin, associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. “Working with mouse models of the disease we have identified a mechanism that we propose may integrate all of these various findings.”