Hibernating, could be the start for developing a medicine to treat Alzheimer disease. A new study, which researchers described it as promising, shows that during hibernation, their brain cells connections are removed but as soon as the animal wakes up from hibernation they come back in a perfect condition.
“Cold shock” substances could be the key factor in preventing brain cells to die, discovery which could prove to be beneficial for Alzheimer researches. The incipient signs of Alzheimer determine the brain cells to die, a process that cannot be reversed.
A team from the UK studied the system behavior of the animals which are going trough hibernation, during the cold season. They observed that during this process the body sets itself on rest mode, meaning that it slows down all its functions to preserve vital resources. Around 20%/30% of the brain connections are put on hold. Even so, when spring comes and its time to start “living” again, those specific connections are restarted with no parts of the memory being affected.
During the experiment, on mice with Alzheimer and healthy ones has been intentionally dropped their body temperatures from 37C to 16/18C, the level hibernating mammals would have. They left them like that for 45 minutes. The healthy mice’s synapses have blocked while their body was cold but as soon as they got warm, they went back to normal while the mice with Alzheimer didn’t recover.
It has been a long time known fact that dropping the body temperature can prevent brain cells damage, but applying this to humans can be dangerous as it increases the risk of pneumonia and development of blood cloths. What really matters is to realize how exactly the process of cooling prevents brain cell loss. In this way scientists would be able to develop medication that could play the same role, said Professor Giovanna Mallucci, head of the team at the Medical Research Councils Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester.
The goal is for researchers to find a drug that can induce the state of hibernation and low body temperature. Such an accomplishment would change the medical world of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer, strokes or brain injuries. Modern medicine hasn’t yet been able to understand what causes the nerve cells to die if affected by Alzheimer, but a deeper study of this discovery could turn out to be life changing.
Image Source: Euclid Library