The brain-boosting ingredients of young blood could be two proteins. The proteins help rejuvenate important structures in neurons and may be responsible for why young blood seems to improve cognitive performance in older brains.
The rejuvenating power of young blood has been linked to reducing the risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
It has also been linked to boosting cognition in older animals. To understand how this works, Thomas Südhof at Stanford University and his colleague applied blood serum from young, two-week-old mice and old, 12- to 15-month-old mice separately to human neurons.
The team found that the blood serum from young mice had a profound effect on the neurons, causing the growth of a number of key structures needed for the cells to communicate. The young serum led to the cells creating more synapses, while the neurons given the old mouse serum were unaffected.
Südhof and his colleagues found the serum from young mice was rich with two proteins, THBS4 and SPARCL1, both of which play a number of roles in the growth and organisation of cells in the body.
When they applied only these proteins to human neurons they saw the same “dramatically enhanced” synapse formation and activity, Südhof wrote.
This is an exciting study that reveals two new proteins that previously weren’t known to be involved in the brain boosting effects of young blood, says Thomas Fath of Macquarie University.
As well as ensuring healthy ageing, these proteins could be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases in the future, says Fath.
Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1902672116 More on these topics:
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