National Institutes of Health (November 15, 2010): Mouse Study Shows Effect of Blood Pressure Drug on Alzheimer's Disease

Publication Date: 
Mon, 11/15/2010

A drug used decades ago to treat high blood pressure has been shown to improve learning and memory in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study found that the drug, diazoxide, acted on nerve cells in the mouse brain in ways that slowed the development of the neurodegenerative disorder. The findings appear in the Nov 15 2010 print edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Mark P. Mattson, PhD, chief of NIA's Laboratory of Neurosciences in Baltimore, directed the research, in collaboration with colleagues at Konkuk University College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, and the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

Mattson's team found that diazoxide stabilized nerve cells in the brain and prevented a biological cascade in the mice that can result in the destruction of these cells. The drug also improved blood flow in the brain and prevented the harmful accumulation of two proteins, beta-amyloid and tau, which are hallmarks of Alzheimer's. Widely used in the 1970s and '80s to treat patients with severe hypertension, diazoxide is currently used to treat hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.