Study: Hormone may reverse memory loss in older adults

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NEW YORK — A new Columbia University study finds age-related memory loss can be dialed back by boosting blood levels of a hormone called osteocalcin which is produced by bone cells.

According to the study, osteocalcin levels begin to drop off in early adulthood.

“That raised an important question,” said Dr. Gerard Karsenty with the Department of Genetics & Development. “Could memory loss be reversed by restoring this hormone back to youthful levels? The answer, at least in mice, is yes.”

In one experiment older mice were given doses of the hormone over a two-month period. In that time frame, scientists said the animal’s performance greatly improved in memory tests and even matched their younger counterparts’ scores.

A seemingly reverse experiment was also conducted on younger mice, who failed to perform as well when given anti-osteocalcin.

But is it safe for human trials?

“It’s a natural part of our body, so it should be safe,” said Dr. Karsenty. “But of course, we need to do more research to translate our findings into clinical use for humans.”

A date for future human trials has not been set.