Increasing the Activity of Certain Type of Nerve Cell Restores Cognition, Mouse Study Shows

Increasing the Activity of Certain Type of Nerve Cell Restores Cognition, Mouse Study Shows
The brain works in a coordinated matter, like a tuned orchestra, scientists say. If a single instrument is out of sync, it affects the entire ensemble. In Alzheimer's disease, damage to certain nerve cells is sufficient to alter brainwave rhythms and cause a loss of cognitive function. A new mouse study shows how enhancing the activity of inhibitory interneurons — nerve cells that work like orchestra conductors — can help rescue out-of-sync brain rhythms and restore cognitive function in Alzheimer’s. The study, “Nav1.1-Overexpressing Interneuron Transplants Restore Brain Rhythms and Cognition in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease," was published in the journal Neuron. Inhibitory interneurons are special types of nerve cells that control brain rhythms. These cells instruct other nerve cells — called excitatory neurons — on when to be active and when to stop. Scientists have discovered alterations in interneurons and their orchestrated rhythms in Alzheimer's and in conditions like epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism. Researchers had previously discovered that inhibitory interneuron malfunctioning in mouse models of Alzheimer's underlay two key symptoms of the disease: impaired memory and epileptic activity. Gladstone Institutes scientists have found that a nerve cell protein called Nav1.1 contributes to brain disharmony. The team engineered inhibitory interneurons to generate more of the protein, then transplanted the tweaked interneurons into mice with Alzheimer's. They did the same with regular interneurons. "We took advantage of the fact that transplanted interneuro
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