Tuesday, March 13, 2018
How Genes are Linked to Aging within the Brain
Researchers at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom, In collaboration with Sapienza University in Rome have gotten closer to discovering why our brains age. As background, it is already known that neurons and other brain cells deteriorate and die, to be replaced by new ones. This process in facilitated by a type of stem cell called a neural stem/ progenitor cell or ( NSPCs). However, over time cells become less functional and our brains produce fewer and fewer neurons. Researchers set out to understand what causes NSPCs to age and the molecular changes behind it by looking at the entire genome of mice. In the study, researches compared the genetics changes in the NSPCs of old mice, 18 months old, and young mice, only 3 months old. From the study, they were able to identify more than 250 genes that changed their behavior, and in turn cause NSPCs to malfunction. Scientists also noticed an increased activity in a gene called Dbx2, which seemed to change aged NSPCs. Through preforming in vivo and invitro assays, it was found that boosting the activity of the Dbx2 gene made young NSPCs behave more like old stem cells. The activity stopped NSPCs from growing as the young cell should. Additionally, researchers were able to identify changes in the epigenetic marks that may explain why stem cells deteriorate with time. In terms of humans, this study aided in showing the changes which contribute to again in the brain by slowing the growth of brain cells and switching the activity of other age-associated genes.
Link to article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321135.php
Original study from Barbraham Institute https://www.babraham.ac.uk/news/2018/03/genes-for-agelinked-brain-deterioration-identified