Further analyses showed that transgenic mice demonstrated higher cortical excitability, suggesting an imbalance between excitation and inhibition. The researchers used this information to test a possible treatment: midazolam, a benzodiazepine that selectively increases GABAAergic neuro-transmission. Application of midazolam both restored the frequency and long-range coherence of slow waves in transgenic mice, suggesting that long-range coherence of slow-wave oscillations depend on GABAAergic inhibition, and that loss of coherence in Alzheimer’s may be due to a reduction of inhibition.

While the findings are preliminary, the researchers feel they are significant for the future treatment of Alzheimer’s. “These findings are of great interest for two reasons: firstly, mice and humans have the same sleep oscillations in the brain — the results are thus transferrable. Secondly, these waves can be recorded with a standard EEG monitor, so that any impairment may also be diagnosed at an early stage.” Dr. Busche said.

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  1. Busche MA et al. Nature Neurosci. 2015; doi:10.1038/nn.4137.