New research from Tony Wyss-Coray and his collaborators reveals that older mice performed better on memory tests when a protein found on the walls of the blood vessels in the brain was blocked, reports Stanford.
Although mice aren’t people, they become forgetful in old age such as humans, according to a recent study.
Interestingly, when Stanford investigators disabled a specific single molecule dotting the mice’s cerebral blood vessel, they found elderly mice struggled with far fewer senior moments during a battery of memory tests.
It appears on the surfaces of a small percentage of endothelial cells—the main building blocks of blood vessels throughout the body. The Stanford investigators learned that blocking this molecule’s capacity to do its primary function—selectively latching onto immune cells circulating in the bloodstream—not only improved old mice’s cognitive performance but countered two physiological hallmarks of the aging brain, including: 1) it restored the ability of the old mice’s brain to create new nerve cells to a more youthful level, and 2) it subdued the inflammatory mood of the brain’s resident immune cells—known as microglia.
Scientists have demonstrated that old mice’s blood is bad for young mice’s brain. They believe that something in older people’s blood may similarly induce declines in brain physiology and cognitive skills. This new study suggests there might be practical ways to block its path where “the rubber meets the road: at the blood-brain barrier, which tightly regulates the passage of most cells and substances thorugh the walls of blood vessels that pervade the human brain.”
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Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, co-director, Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
Hanadie Yousef, PhD (founder Junvena Therapeutics)