Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drugs that weaken traumatic memories hold promise for PTSD treatment

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Memories of traumatic events often last a lifetime because they are so difficult to treat through behavioral approaches. A preclinical study reveals that drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors can enhance the brain's ability to permanently replace old traumatic memories with new memories, opening promising avenues for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.

Metabolic activity (green and red colors) in the hippocampus (white dotted line) of animals that underwent extinction training in combination with HDACis (right) is significantly higher than in animals that underwent extinction training alone (left). Metabolic activity serves to estimate the learning capacity of an animal.
Credit: Cell, Gräff et al.

Memories of traumatic events often last a lifetime because they are so difficult to treat through behavioral approaches. A preclinical study in mice published by Cell Press January 16th in the journal Cell reveals that drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) can enhance the brain's ability to permanently replace old traumatic memories with new memories, opening promising avenues for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

Related Articles


"Psychotherapy is often used for treating PTSD, but it doesn't always work, especially when the traumatic events occurred many years earlier," says senior study author Li-Huei Tsai of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "This study provides a mechanism explaining why old memories are difficult to extinguish and shows that HDACis can facilitate psychotherapy to treat anxiety disorders such as PTSD."

One common treatment for anxiety disorders is exposure-based therapy, which involves exposing patients to fear-evoking thoughts or events in a safe environment. This process reactivates the traumatic memory, opening a short time window during which the original memory can be disrupted and replaced with new memories. Exposure-based therapy is effective when the traumatic events occurred recently, but until now, it was not clear whether it would also be effective for older traumatic memories.

To address this question, Tsai and her team used a protocol for studying fear responses associated with traumatic memories. In the first phase, the researchers exposed mice to a tone followed by an electrical footshock. Once the mice learned to associate these two events, they began to freeze in fear upon hearing the tone by itself, even when they did not receive a shock. Using an extinction protocol, which is similar to exposure-based therapy, the researchers repeatedly presented the tone without the shock to test whether the mice could unlearn the association between these two events and would stop freezing in response to the tone. The extinction protocol was successful for mice that were exposed to the tone-shock pairing just one day earlier, but it was not effective for mice that originally formed the traumatic memory one month earlier. The researchers hypothesized that epigenetic modification of genes involved in learning and memory might be responsible for the diminished response of treatment for older memories.

The researchers tested whether HDACis, which promote long-lasting activation of genes involved in learning and memory, could help replace old traumatic memories with new memories. Mice previously exposed to the tone-shock pairing received HDACis and then underwent the extinction protocol. These mice learned to stop freezing in response to the tone, even when they originally formed the traumatic memory one month earlier. "Collectively, our findings suggest that exposure-based therapy alone does not effectively weaken traumatic memories that were formed a long time ago, but that HDACis can be combined with exposure-based therapy to substantially improve treatment for the most enduring traumatic memories," Tsai says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gräff et al. Epigenetic priming of memory updating during reconsolidation to attenuate remote fear memories. Cell, January 2014

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Drugs that weaken traumatic memories hold promise for PTSD treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116130648.htm>.
Cell Press. (2014, January 16). Drugs that weaken traumatic memories hold promise for PTSD treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116130648.htm
Cell Press. "Drugs that weaken traumatic memories hold promise for PTSD treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116130648.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. 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