Gene Found That Accelerates Brain Aging By 12 Years

Posted: Mar 16 2017, 10:14am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Gene Found That Accelerates Brain Aging by 12 Years
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  • Scientists discover the Gene responsible for Brain Aging

Scientists have discovered the gene that is responsible for senescence in human beings. This groundbreaking research could open the way for future studies into the matter.

The experts have found a genetic component that has an impact on the aging of the brain. The point on the timeline from which the brain has been studied is 65 years of age.

This research may prove crucial in the battle against neurological diseases in the future. In the capacity of being a new biological marker, this gene may well lead to the end of Alzheimer’s disease in the times to come.

Seniors differ in their looks. Some may seem old before their time while others maintain their rejuvenation well into their later years.

These differences were noted down in the frontal cortex. This brain area is responsible for the more complex operations. The gene causing these variations is known as TMEM106B.

Those individuals who have two faulty copies of these genes tend to look a dozen years older their their more youthful counterparts. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is said to cause Alzheimer’s.

The genes though only tell half the story of neurological diseases, said study co-leader Herve Rhinn, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology in the Taub Institute.

"By far, the major risk factor for neurodegenerative disease is aging. Something changes in the brain as you age that makes you more susceptible to brain disease. That got us thinking, 'What, on a genetic level, is driving healthy brain aging?'"

Aging in itself causes many of the degenerative diseases. Some subtle changes in the human brain cause these devastating ailments. At the genetic level, 1904 people were studied by Drs. Abeliovich and Rhinn to confirm this thesis. They didn’t have neurodegenerative diseases at all.

Their transcriptomes were studied thoroughly. 100 genes were found to express themselves in synch with the aging process. Differential aging was gauged from this study.

TMEM106B remains the linchpin gene around which the rest of the changes in the frontal cortex take place with advancing age. This gene is activated from 65 years of age onwards.

"Until then, everybody's in the same boat, and then there's some yet-to-be-defined stress that kicks in. If you have two good copies of the gene, you respond well to that stress. If you have two bad copies, your brain ages quickly," said Dr. Abeliovich.

The researchers also found another gene termed progranulin which caused a difference in the brain’s aging. Progranulin and TMEM106B are involved in the same signaling pathway although they are present on different chromosomes.

And a rare neurodegenerative disease called frontotemporal dementia is also linked to both genetic variants. However, this study can not find the role of progranulin and TMEM106B in frontotemporal dementia.

"We were studying healthy individuals, so it is not about disease, per se," said Dr. Abeliovich. "But of course, it's in healthy tissue that you start to get disease. It appears that if you have these genetic variants, brain aging accelerates and that increases vulnerability to brain disease. And vice versa: if you have brain disease, the disease accelerates brain aging. It's a vicious cycle."

The study was published in the online journal Cell Systems.

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