Transthyretin: a key gene involved in the maintenance of memory capacities during aging

Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Nov;29(11):1721-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.04.007. Epub 2007 May 23.


Aging is often associated with decline of memory function. Aged animals, like humans, can naturally develop memory impairments and thus represent a useful model to investigate genes involved in long-term memory formation that are differentially expressed between aged memory-impaired (AI) and aged memory-unimpaired (AU) animals following stimulation in a spatial memory task. We found that alterations in hippocampal gene expression of transthyretin (TTR), calcineurin, and NAD(P)H dehydrogenase quinone 2 (NQO2) were associated with memory deficits in aged animals. Decreased TTR gene expression could be attributed at least partially to diminish activity of C/EBP immediate-early gene cascade initiated by CREB since protein levels of C/EBP, a transcription factor regulating both TTR and NQO2 expression, was decreased in AI animals. Memory deficits were also found during aging in mice lacking TTR, a retinol transporter known to prevent amyloid-beta aggregation and plaque formation as seen in Alzheimer's disease. Treatment with retinoic acid reversed cognitive deficits in these knock-out mice as well as in aged rats. Our study provides genetic, behavioural and molecular evidence that TTR is involved in the maintenance of normal cognitive processes during aging by acting on the retinoid signalling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Prealbumin
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Task Performance and Analysis*


  • Prealbumin