Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mice with defective memory may hold clues to schizophrenia

18.01.2006


By deleting a single gene in a small portion of the brains of mice, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that the animals were affected in a way resembling schizophrenia in humans.



After the gene was removed, the animals, which had been trained to use external cues to look for chocolate treats buried in sand, couldn’t learn a similar task, the researchers report in a paper appearing in today’s issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers deleted the gene, which codes for a part of a protein involved in passing signals between nerve cells needed for learning and memory. When a similar protein is blocked by drugs in humans, it leads to a psychotic state similar to schizophrenia.


"We think that both our genetic rodent model as well as a new learning and memory test we developed may provide valuable tools in the investigation of schizophrenia," said Dr. Robert Greene, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study.

The researchers developed the training method to test the animals’ memories. Chocolate was buried in a cup containing scented sand, which hid the treat’s odor. A second cup contained sand with a different scent but no treat. The researchers could change the cage’s environment by affixing colored cutouts to the transparent cage walls, adding a textured floor and making other modifications.

The normal mice learned that in the first environment, the chocolate was linked to the first scent. When the researchers changed to a second environment, the mice learned to find the chocolate using the second scent.

Once the mice were trained, an area of the brain called the hippocampus was injected with a genetically engineered virus that selectively cut out the NR1 gene. NR1 produces a protein that is critical for molding nerve messages in an area of the hippocampus called the CA3, which is associated with distinguishing complex patterns.

It is this molding that underlies the hippocampal-dependent learning and memory that is needed to distinguish the complex patterns.

The researchers then attempted to train the mice in memory tasks with new scents and new environments, but the animals lacking the gene couldn’t learn. The control group, which received an injection that doesn’t cut out NR1, learned as quickly as before.

This shows that the treated animals couldn’t react properly to situational cues, which also happens in people with schizophrenia, Dr. Greene said.

The researchers hope to see in future studies if similar small changes to nearby brain regions involved in learning and memory result in the same kind of problems.

"In addition, we want to use a similar task in humans to that used in this study to see if patients with schizophrenia have similar deficits in cognition as we observed in our experimental mice," Dr. Greene said. "This will help determine whether our genetically altered animals provide a good model of the psychosis associated with schizophrenia."

Former UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Tarek Rajji, a psychiatry resident now at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. David Chapman, a postdoctoral fellow now at UCB Pharma. Dr. Howard Eichenbaum of Boston University also participated in the study.

The work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>