Rapamycin

Rapamycin makes young mice learn better and prevents decline in old mice

July, 2012

Further evidence from mice studies that the Easter Island drug improves cognition, in young mice as well as old.

I have reported previously on research suggesting that rapamycin, a bacterial product first isolated from soil on Easter Island and used to help transplant patients prevent organ rejection, might improve learning and memory. Following on from this research, a new mouse study has extended these findings by adding rapamycin to the diet of healthy mice throughout their life span. Excitingly, it found that cognition was improved in young mice, and abolished normal cognitive decline in older mice.

Anxiety and depressive-like behavior was also reduced, and the mice’s behavior demonstrated that rapamycin was acting like an antidepressant. This effect was found across all ages.

Three "feel-good" neurotransmitters — serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine — all showed significantly higher levels in the midbrain (but not in the hippocampus). As these neurotransmitters are involved in learning and memory as well as mood, it is suggested that this might be a factor in the improved cognition.

Other recent studies have suggested that rapamycin inhibits a pathway in the brain that interferes with memory formation and facilitates aging.

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Rapamycin rescues memory in Alzheimer's mice

February, 2010

A mouse study found Rapamycin improved learning and memory and reduced Alzheimer's-like damage in the brain.

Rapamycin, a drug that keeps the immune system from attacking transplanted organs, was recently found to extend the life span of aged research mice. Now a study involving genetically engineered mice has found that 10 weeks of taking the drug improved learning and memory and reduced Alzheimer's-like damage in the brain.

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More evidence for benefits of Rapamycin

April, 2010

Another study using a different strain of genetically engineered mice has confirmed the finding that the transplant drug rapamycin prevented cognitive impairment.

A few months ago, I reported on an exciting finding that rapamycin, a drug currently used in transplant patients, improved memory in Alzheimer's mice. Now a different strain of mice (ones engineered to have defects in the genes that make amyloid precursor protein) has also shown improvements in learning and memory, correlated with less damage in brain tissue, after rapamycin treatment lowered levels of amyloid-beta-42. The mice given the drug performed at levels comparable with normal mice.

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