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Ultrasound for the treatment of mouse with dementia
Scientists are reporting the successful use of ultrasound to treat cognitive dysfunction in mice that mimic vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease, the two most common forms of dementia. Ultrasound is applied throughout the brain to improve blood vessel formation and nerve cell regeneration.
Under the leadership of cardiologist Hiroaki Shimokawa, a team at Tohoku University in Japan began using two groups of mice. One group underwent surgery to reduce blood flow to the brain, mimicking the effects of vascular dementia, while the other group was genetically engineered to have Alzheimer's symptoms.
Next, the scientists applied low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) to the brains of two groups of animals for three 20-minute sessions a day. Vascular dementia mice received these three treatments three times a day for 5 days (three treatment days in total), and Alzheimer's mice were treated 11 days apart at 3 months.
Behavioral testing indicated that treated mice showed a significant improvement in cognitive function when compared to control mice from both groups that did not receive LIPUS treatment. After careful study, it was found that this treatment caused an increase in the expression of enzymes involved in angiogenesis, as well as an increase in the protein that plays a key role in the survival and growth of nerve cells. Importantly, there seems to be no side effects.
"LIPUS therapy is a non-invasive physiotherapy that can be applied to high-risk elderly patients without the need for surgery or anesthesia and can be used repeatedly," Shimokawa said.
These results support the results of earlier studies in which a leading group led by Shimokawa used heart-focused LIPUS to promote angiogenesis in pigs with myocardial ischemia, a condition in which blood flows to the heart.
It should also be noted that scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia have previously used ultrasound to restore the memory of genetically engineered Alzheimer's mice, although in this case ultrasound is used to remove toxic plaque from the animal's brain.