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E. coli infection induces delirium in aging rats

Research could inform understanding of how immune system activation affects cognitive function in the elderly

Date:
May 29, 2018
Source:
Society for Neuroscience
Summary:
Activation of the immune system by an infection may temporarily disrupt formation of long-term memories in healthy, aging rats by reducing levels of a protein required for brain cells to make new connections, suggests new research.
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Activation of the immune system by an infection may temporarily disrupt formation of long-term memories in healthy, aging rats by reducing levels of a protein required for brain cells to make new connections, suggests new research published in eNeuro.

Cognitive decline in old age is thought to be gradual, as in Alzheimer's disease. However, an abrupt or more rapid deterioration of brain function called delirium is also common in aging, but much less studied. Although most individuals will recover from periods of delirium, these episodes, which can be triggered by an exaggerated immune response, may increase risk of dementia.

Susan Patterson and colleagues previously found that 24-month-old rats infected with the bacteria Escherichia coli have a prolonged immune response and memory impairments compared to 3-month-old rats. The researchers have now extended these findings to show that the immune response in older rats persists for eight to 14 days and is associated with reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that enables the hippocampus to create long-term memory. The rodent model of delirium described in this study could inform future research to understand how surgery, infection, and injury -- factors that activate the immune system -- affect cognitive function in elderly humans.


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Materials provided by Society for Neuroscience. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Naoto Tanaka, Giuseppe P. Cortese, Ruth M. Barrientos, Steven F. Maier, Susan L. Patterson. Aging and an Immune Challenge Interact to Produce Prolonged, but Not Permanent Reductions in Hippocampal L-LTP and mBDNF in a Rodent Model with Features of Delirium. eneuro, 2018; ENEURO.0009-18.2018 DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0009-18.2018

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Society for Neuroscience. "E. coli infection induces delirium in aging rats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180529132120.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience. (2018, May 29). E. coli infection induces delirium in aging rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 23, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180529132120.htm
Society for Neuroscience. "E. coli infection induces delirium in aging rats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180529132120.htm (accessed June 23, 2024).

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