Researchers restore the memory performance of Methuselah mice to a juvenile stage.
Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these ageing processes in the brain.
This was shown in mice by scientists at the University of Bonn with their colleagues at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).
Old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with a cannabis active ingredient. This opens up new options, for instance, when it comes to treating dementia.
The results are now presented in the journal Nature Medicine.
Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, cognitive ability also decreases with increasing age. This can be noticed, for instance, in that it becomes more difficult to learn new things or devote attention to several things at the same time.
This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.
Scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) have now achieved this in mice.
These animals have a relatively short life expectancy in nature and display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age.
The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks.
Afterwards, they tested learning capacity and memory performance in the animals – including, for instance, orientation skills and the recognition of other mice.
Mice who were only given a placebo displayed natural age-dependent learning and memory losses. In contrast, the cognitive functions of the animals treated with cannabis were just as good as the two-month-old control animals.
“The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” reported Prof. Andreas Zimmer from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.
News source: University of Bonn. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
Figure legend: This Knowridge.com image is credited to Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn.