UCLA researchers have discovered a key molecular mechanism behind memory linking. They’ve also identified a way to restore this brain function in middle-aged mice – and an FDA-approved drug that achieves the same thing.
Boosting CCR5 gene expression in the brains of middle-aged mice interfered with memory linking. The animals forgot the connection between the two cages.
When the scientists deleted the CCR5 gene in the animals, the mice were able to link memories that normal mice could not.
Silva had previously studied the drug, maraviroc, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2007 for the treatment of HIV infection. His lab discovered that maraviroc also suppressed CCR5 in the brains of mice.
“When we gave maraviroc to older mice, the drug duplicated the effect of genetically deleting CCR5 from their DNA,” said Silva, a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute. “The older animals were able to link memories again.”