A study in rats matching the activity of 146 genes with brain aging and impaired learning and memory produces a new picture of brain aging and cognitive impairment. The research, by scientists at the University of Kentucky, uses powerful new gene microarray technology in a novel way to match gene activity with actual behavioral and cognitive performance over time, resulting in the identification of this wide range of aging- and cognition-related genes (ACRGs). Importantly, the changes in gene activity had mostly begun in the mid-life of the rats, suggesting that changes in gene activity in the brain in early adulthood might set off cellular or biological changes that could affect how the brain works later in life.
The report (embargoed for release until May 7, 2003, at 5 p.m. ET) appears in the May 2003 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. It provides more information on genes already linked to aging, including some involved in inflammation and oxidative stress, and also describes additional areas in which gene activity might play a role in brain aging. These include declines in energy metabolism in cells and changes in the activity of neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and their ability to make new connections with each other. In addition, other areas in which genes appear to play an influential role involve increases in cellular calcium levels which could trigger cell death, cholesterol synthesis (also implicated in Alzheimer's disease in other research), iron metabolism and the breakdown of the insulating myelin sheaths that when intact facilitate efficient communication among neurons.
The study was conducted by a team led by Philip W. Landfield, Ph.D., and colleagues Eric M. Blalock, Kuey-Chu Chen, Keith Sharrow, Thomas C. Foster, and Nada M. Porter at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and James P. Herman at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was supported primarily by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Additional support was provPage: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
Contact: Vicky Cahan
NIH/National Institute on Aging
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