During sepsis, the body sheds fragments of heparan sulfate, which crossed the blood-brain barrier and enters the hippocampus. The presence of heparan sulfate in the hippocampus may cause memory loss associated with septic shock.
Memory loss and cognitive dysfunction associated with septic shock is the result of the sugar heparan sulfate, which is released into the bloodstream and enters the brain during the life-threatening condition. The image is credited to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. )
The loss of memory and cognitive function known to afflict survivors of septic shock is the result of a sugar that is released into the bloodstream and enters the brain during the life-threatening condition. This finding, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains the premature mental aging that follows septic shock and may shed light on memory loss in other diseases.
“This sugar is getting into the hippocampus, and it shouldn’t be in there,” said Robert Linhardt, professor of biocatalysis and metabolic engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and lead author of the study. “We actually think this is rewiring memory in the hippocampus, and it’s causing memory loss. Neural circuits are being disrupted or broken or connected in the wrong way.”