These mice, engineered to make the human COX-2 protein, develop memory problems as they age, mimicking problems seen in Alzheimer's disease, report scientists from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the biomedical research company Pharmacia. The results are scheduled for presentation Nov. 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.
Additional studies seem to link COX-2 to loss of brain cells in animal models of other neurologic diseases, as well, including stroke, Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.
"The really exciting thing is that this protein is turning out to be involved in so many things, and we already have the means to target it, to block it," says Katrin Andreasson, M.D., assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "It makes it very conceivable that in the years to come we could prevent these diseases."
Drugs that reduce swelling, like ibuprofen and newer anti-inflammatories like Celebrex and Vioxx, work by blocking COX-2. However, Andreasson cautions that a lot of work remains to learn whether these drugs might prevent neurological disease or damage in people.
Building on their report in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, Andreasson's colleagues Alena Savonenko and Alicja Markowska are to present new data at the neuroscience meeting that shows the more COX-2 protein the mice make in the brain, the more pronounced their memory problems and the faster those problems develop.
Andreasson's colleagues measured the animals' abilities to learn and remember using a battery of tests, including mazes and swimming tests. The animals' behaviors in the test situations reflected how brain l
Contact: Joanna Downer
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions