Possible New Discovered Mechanism Behind Cognitive Decline in Aging

Scientists have discovered what they believe to be the central mechanism behind cognitive decline associated with normal aging.

“The mechanism involves the mis-regulation of a brain protein known as CaMKII which is crucial for memory and learning,” said the study’s co-senior author Ulli Bayer, PhD.”This study directly suggests specific pharmacological treatment strategies.”

Using mouse models researchers found that altering the CaMKII brain protein caused similar cognitive effects as those that happen through normal aging.

“The current study now shows a decrease in this modification of CaMKII is sufficient to cause impairments in synaptic plasticity and in memory that are similar in aging,” Bayer said.

Normal aging reduces the amount of nitric oxide in the body. That in turn reduces nitrosylation which reduces memory and learning ability, the study said.

Bayer said the new research opens the way toward developing drugs and other therapeutic interventions that could normalize the nitrosylation of the protein. He said that holds out the possibility of treating or staving off normal cognitive decline for an unknown period of time.

“We know this protein can be targeted,” Bayer said. “And we think it could be done pharmacologically. That is the next logical step.”


Nicole L. Rumian, Ronald K. Freund, Mark L. Dell’Acqua, Steven J. Coultrap, K. Ulrich Bayer. Decreased nitrosylation of CaMKII causes aging-associated impairments in memory and synaptic plasticity in mice. Science Signaling, 2023; 16 (795) DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.ade5892

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “Scientists may have discovered mechanism behind cognitive decline in aging.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230725171914.htm>.

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