A drug used to increase blood production in both medical treatments and athletic doping scandals seems to also improve memory in those using it. New research published in BMC Biology says that the memory enhancing effects of erythropoietin (EPO) are not related to its effects on blood production but are due to direct influences on neurons in the brain. The findings may prove useful in the treatment of diseases affecting brain function, such as schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s.
Patients given EPO to treat chronic kidney failure had been observed to have improved cognition after starting the drug. “These effects of EPO were thought to result from the blood-boosting effects of the drug,” explains Hannelore Ehrenreich at the Max Planck Institute, “but the finding of receptors for EPO on nerve cells in the brain suggests that some other mechanism might be involved.”
To investigate the mechanisms of EPO-enhanced cognition, the researchers injected mice with EPO every other day for three weeks (11 doses) to test the effects of long-term exposure. After the treatment period, mice given EPO had better memory in some situations than did mice that had been given a placebo instead. The improvement in memory lasted up to three weeks from the last EPO dose and outlasted increased blood-cell production, but had disappeared by four weeks. Mice given three doses saw no benefit with respect to memory improvement.
“Young mice systematically treated with EPO for three weeks have improved memory, similar to the dramatic improvements observed in endurance and muscular performance athletes who use EPO to boost performance”, says Ehrenreich. The specific memory improvements were associated with the hippocampus, a structure in the brain involved in learning and memory, among other functions.
The researchers did a series of experiments on hippocampal tissue taken from the mice and found that EPO directly affected the neurons in this structure. “EPO had pronounced effects on short-term and long-term plasticity in the hippocampus as well as on synaptic transmission”, the researchers report. “Treatment with EPO seems to increase the number of inhibitory circuits, which actually increases the efficiency of transmission of excitatory nerve impulses in specific neurons, resulting in greater short-term and long-term plasticity in memory pathways in the hippocampus.”
These findings begin to shed light on the mechanisms of improvements in cognition seen in patients with schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis as a result of treatment with this drug. As well as working to refine these findings, further studies might also investigate the effects of EPO on other brain regions that might be associated with improvements in motor functions in multiple sclerosis, and investigate the potential of using EPO or targeting the networks involved in EPO-generated neuronal plasticity in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Article: Bartosz Adamcio, Derya Sargin, Alicja Stradomska, Lucian Medrihan, Christoph Gertler, Fabian Theis, Mingyue Zhang, Michael Müller, Imam Hassouna, Kathrin Hannke, Swetlana Sperling, Konstantin Radyushkin, Ahmed El-Kordi, Lizzy Schulze, Anja Ronnenberg, Fred Wolf, Nils Brose, Jeong-Seop Rhee, Weiqi Zhang and Hannelore Ehrenreich, 'Erythropoietin enhances hippocampal long-term potentiation and memory', BMC Biology
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Top Secret: On Confidentiality On Scientific Issues, Across The Ring And Across The Bedroom
- Would New Planet X Clear Its Orbit? - And Any Better Name Than "Planet Nine"?
- The Mystery Of The Red Sea
- Make Sexual Harassment in Federally Funded Institutions a Crime.
- First-semester GPA A Better Predictor Of College Success Than ACT Score
- Stop Using BMI To Determine Health
- The Greenhouse Effect Fallacy
- "No, I am not from the states. It sounds like an astonishing arrangement to have multiple jurisdiction..."
- "Very true. The observation I've made is that in 2001 it was John F. Nash and Alicia DeLarde ..."
- "The male female difference you think is so basic isn't so simple. Consider this bird. http..."
- "It is a matter of jurisdiction. In the USA the federal government can only claim jurisdiction..."
- "Ok, so for simplicity sake, let's assume two cases. One in which the IR radiation makes 0 bounces..."
- BMI is Bologna
- Energy Drinks: The Dose Makes the Poison
- California’s Prop 65: Bad For Public Acceptance Of Science, About To Get Worse
- Wear Red Today! It’s Women’s Heart Health Awareness Day
- Can Marijuana Ease NFL Players’ Pain? Claims Are All Over The Field
- Mid-Life Crisis Clusters Found In 4 US Cities
- Cambridge researcher develops smartphone app to map Swiss-German dialects
- Studies link healthy workforces to positive stock market performance
- Pioneering discovery leads to potential preventive treatment for sudden cardiac death
- Online shopping might not be as green as we thought
- Gene family turns cancer cells into aggressive stem cells that keep growing