Potential Improvement of Learning and Memory in Down Syndrome

A new approach could enhance memory and learning in individuals with Down syndrome by stabilizing a key component in the body’s protein sorting system called the retromer complex.

The study led by researchers at Temple University’s Alzheimer’s Center, under the direction of Domenico Praticò, MD, FCPP, has discovered that mice treated with a medication which helps stabilize the retromer complex performed better in tests measuring learning, memory, and behavior.

Treatment was given orally three times a week for several months. Afterward, the mice were assessed using various tests to measure their memory and learning abilities. The group treated with the drug, called TPT-172, showed significant improvements in their cognitive function compared to the mice that did not receive the treatment.

Down syndrome affects around 1 in 800 births worldwide and is associated with cognitive decline. The researchers found that the retromer complex, responsible for organizing and transporting proteins within cells, is disrupted in the brains of people with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also discovered that retromer stabilization enhanced a process called synaptic plasticity, which is crucial for memory formation and learning. This means that the treatment had a positive effect on the connections between brain cells, improving their ability to communicate.

“By stabilizing the retromer complex, it may be possible to restore normal cellular processes and improve cognitive function in individuals with Down syndrome,” says Praticò, the lead researcher.

While further research is needed to fully understand how retromer stabilization works and to confirm its effectiveness, these findings provide promising insights into potential treatments for the cognitive impairments associated with Down syndrome.