Calcium channel blockers, also known as calcium antagonists, might reduce the severity of memory decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research released in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.
Using a genetically-encoded fluorescent molecule, known as GCaMP6f, researchers at the University of Bristol were able to measure calcium ions within brain cells to get a better understanding of the neurodegenerative disease.
Researchers found an overload of calcium ions in diseased brain cells caused an overproduction of the L-type calcium channel. The channel allows for the flow of calcium ions into the cell, in which an increase may induce cognitive decline. L-type channel antagonists decreased the flow and restored the calcium ions to normal levels.
In another test, researchers utilized two separate odors paired with an electric shock to examine for any memory impairment. This test produced similar results, indicating that the overproduction of L-type channels was associated with memory deficits.
“L-type channels have been thought to have a role in AD for some time and this study shows a direct link between memory loss and L-type channel overproduction in brain cells,” said James Hodge, co-author of the study.
“Memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a highly distressing and difficult to treat symptom. Targeting the early changes in brain cell function – before they begin to degenerate – may be effective in treating memory loss.”