While the effects were not immediate, the researchers in the study from Tel Aviv University, MIT, the University of Toronto, and Tsighua University in Beijing -- were able to assess that the new compound shows improved permeability of the blood-brain barrier. After two weeks of oral administration of the compound in mice, magnesium levels in the cerebral-spinal fluid increased.
Toward a more "plastic" brain
"It seems counterintuitive to use magnesium for memory improvement because magnesium is a natural blocker of the NMDA receptor, a molecule critical for memory function. But our compound blocks the receptor only during background neuronal activity. As a result, it enhances the brain's 'plasticity' and increases the number of brain synapses that can be switched on," says Dr. Slutsky.
"Our results suggest that commercially available magnesium supplements are not effective in boosting magnesium in cerebro-spinal fluid," she says. "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, but today half of all people in industrialized countries are living with magnesium deficiencies that may generally impair human health, including cognitive functioning."
Before the new compound becomes commercially available, Dr. Slutsky advises people to get their magnesium the old-fashioned way -- by eating lots of green leaves, broccoli, almonds, cashews and fruit. The effects on memory won't appear overnight, she cautions, but with this persistent change in diet, memory should improve, and the effects of dementia and other cognitive impairment diseases related to aging may be considerably delayed.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University