Simulations suggest pharmacological methods for rescuing long-term potentiation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Congenital cognitive dysfunctions are frequently due to deficits in molecular pathways that underlie the induction or maintenance of synaptic plasticity. For example, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RTS) is due to a mutation in cbp, encoding the histone acetyltransferase CREB-binding protein (CBP). CBP is a transcriptional co-activator for CREB, and induction of CREB-dependent transcription plays a key role in long-term memory (LTM). In animal models of RTS, mutations of cbp impair LTM and late-phase long-term potentiation (LTP). As a step toward exploring plausible intervention strategies to rescue the deficits in LTP, we extended our previous model of LTP induction to describe histone acetylation and simulated LTP impairment due to cbp mutation. Plausible drug effects were simulated by model parameter changes, and many increased LTP. However no parameter variation consistent with a effect of a known drug class fully restored LTP. Thus we examined paired parameter variations consistent with effects of known drugs. A pair that simulated the effects of a phosphodiesterase inhibitor (slowing cAMP degradation) concurrent with a deacetylase inhibitor (prolonging histone acetylation) restored normal LTP. Importantly these paired parameter changes did not alter basal synaptic weight. A pair that simulated the effects of a phosphodiesterase inhibitor and an acetyltransferase activator was similarly effective. For both pairs strong additive synergism was present. The effect of the combination was greater than the summed effect of the separate parameter changes. These results suggest that promoting histone acetylation while simultaneously slowing the degradation of cAMP may constitute a promising strategy for restoring deficits in LTP that may be associated with learning deficits in RTS. More generally these results illustrate how the strategy of combining modeling and empirical studies may provide insights into the design of effective therapies for improving long-term synaptic plasticity and learning associated with cognitive disorders.

published proceedings

  • J Theor Biol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Smolen, P., Baxter, D. A., & Byrne, J. H.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Smolen, Paul||Baxter, Douglas A||Byrne, John H

publication date

  • November 2014