Dietary Supplement of Spermidine Suppresses Age-Dependent Synaptic Narrowing & Memory Loss in the Brain; New Findings May Engender Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Age-Associated Dementia

Scientgists have now shown that feeding spermidine to Drosophila protects them from age-dependent memory impairment by suppressing structural and functional alterations in presynaptic performance. [Editor’s Note: Spermidine is a polyamine compound (C7H19N3) found in ribosomes and living tissues, and having various metabolic functions within organisms. Spermidine was originally isolated from semen.] Synapses, connecting the neurons in our brains, continuously encode new memories, but the ability to form new memories (“learning”) diminishes drastically for many of us as we get older. In an article published online on September 29, 2016, in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, work by the groups of Stephan Sigrist (Freie Universität Berlin), Andrea Fiala (Universität Göttingen), and Frank Madeo (Universität Graz) shows that specific changes at the level of synapses directly provoke age-related dementia, and that, however, administering a simple substance already found in our bodies, i.e., spermidine, can help to avoid such age-related synaptic changes and thereby protect from age-induced memory impairment. Just as humans do, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster – a leading model for aging research – suffers from memory impairment with advancing age. The same team of researchers had previously observed that Drosophila exhibits an age-induced decline in levels of spermidine, and that these memory deficits can be suppressed by feeding with a diet supplemented by spermidine. In the PLOS Biology article, the scientists describe an unexpected scenario that convincingly explains the suppression of memory deficits by spermidine feeding. In a nutshell, synapses within the Drosophila brain seem to narrow their operational space, and thus become increasingly unable to form new memories with age.
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