Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nicotine-Like Drugs Can Enhance Learning, Memory In Rat Model Of Alzheimer's Disease

Date:
November 10, 1998
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
While nicotine does addict people to cigarettes, scientists are learning that nicotine, when separated from tobacco, may have beneficial effects as well.

LOS ANGELES -- While nicotine does addict people to cigarettes, scientists are learning that nicotine, when separated from tobacco, may have beneficial effects as well.

Duke behavioral pharmacologist Edward Levin said in a report prepared for presentation Sunday (Nov. 8) at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting that nicotine-like compounds can actually help restore the ability to learn and remember in rats that have brain lesions similar to those found in Alzheimer's disease patients.

The research showed that rats given a drug called AR-R 17779, a proprietary compound, performed significantly better than untreated rats on standard radial arm maze learning and memory tests.

The compound was developed by Astra Arcus USA, a pharmaceutical company based in Worcester, Mass., which also supported the research study. AR-R 17779 is one of a new class of drugs aimed at combating the learning and memory deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease. These compounds work by docking to specific sites on the surface of brain cells called acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine or a nicotine look-alike can activate these receptors, which enhance the brain's ability to learn and remember. Some studies suggest that nicotinic receptor stimulation, especially activation of a specific nicotinic receptor sub-type known as alpha7 that AR-R 17779 binds to, may be able to protect brain cells from deterioration caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Nicotine itself simultaneously activates many types of receptors and inactivates others. The effects on some receptors increase attention and decrease anxiety, appetite and pain, while others elevate blood pressure and heart rate.

"We are excited about this class of compounds because they act very selectively on one sub-type of receptors, as opposed to nicotine, which acts on many, many systems throughout the body," Levin said. "The hope is that these drugs will have beneficial effects on cognition without some of the cardiovascular side effects associated with nicotine."

Levin and his colleagues tested the ability of AR-R 17779 to boost learning and memory in rats placed on a standard radial arm maze test, a wagon-wheel shaped structure consisting of a platform with planks radiating from it. At the end of each plank is a food reward. Once eaten, the food is not replaced. Normal rats quickly learn that it is not worth their effort to go down the same plank twice, whereas rats that have lesions in their brains that mimic Alzheimer's disease show significantly slower learning and memory of the task.

"When we injected the impaired rats with the compound 20 minutes before testing, the animals showed significantly improved learning and even a reversal of the working memory impairment normally seen in these animals," Levin said. "However, further testing will certainly be required to confirm and expand on these results."

Levin also is conducting clinical trials using nicotine skin patches to try to improve attention and memory in Alzheimer's disease patients.

"Memory loss is one of many symptoms that patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias develop as their brain cells deteriorate," Levin said. "As patients' memory and comprehension deteriorate, performing ordinary tasks becomes more difficult. We know that nicotine or nicotine-like drugs may not be a cure-all for Alzheimer's disease, but if we could prolong the period of time that patients can be independent and functional, it could mean a much better quality of life for them and their care givers."

The results of Levin's human studies are expected in 1999. "We would certainly discourage the use of nicotine products or taking up smoking for Alzheimer's disease patients," Levin said. "Our goal is to find a nicotine-like substance that will give the beneficial effects of nicotine without the harmful side effects or addictive ability."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Nicotine-Like Drugs Can Enhance Learning, Memory In Rat Model Of Alzheimer's Disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981110075100.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (1998, November 10). Nicotine-Like Drugs Can Enhance Learning, Memory In Rat Model Of Alzheimer's Disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981110075100.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Nicotine-Like Drugs Can Enhance Learning, Memory In Rat Model Of Alzheimer's Disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981110075100.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within 4 Months

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) Health officials warn that without further intervention, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could reach 1.4 million by January. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

AFP (Sep. 23, 2014) The number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically, the WHO warned in a study on Tuesday. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) No surprise here: A recent study says men can reduce their risk of heart attack by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins