Scientists discover hypothalamus brain region that “initiates aging” in mice

"NF-kB activation in neurons in the hypothalamus increases with age (left column), while the total number of neurons (middle column) and the total number of all cell types in the hypothalamus (right column) is maintained at a relatively steady rate across age groups."   Source: Nature.com
“NF-kB activation in neurons in the hypothalamus increases with age (left column), while the total number of neurons (middle column) and the total number of all cell types in the hypothalamus (right column) is maintained at a relatively steady rate across age groups.” Source: Nature.com

According to a report by Caroline Winter in BusinessWeek, scientists at Albert Einstein School of Medicine say that they have, Discovered a brain region that may control aging throughout the entire body,” as their lab experiments have increased longevity in mice by up to 20 percent.

Winter writes:

Scientists at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine say they’ve discovered a brain region that may control aging throughout the entire body. By manipulating that region, they were able to extend the lives of mice by 20 percent. The finding, detailed in a paper published in Nature on May 1, may lead to new ways of warding off age-related diseases and increasing life spans.

The hypothalamus, an almond-size area of the brain, controls growth, reproduction, and metabolism but also initiates aging, according to the study. Dongsheng Cai, a physiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, together with colleagues, realized this by tracking NF-κB, a molecule that controls DNA transcription and is involved in inflammation and the bodily response to stress. They found that in mice, NF-κB becomes more active in the hypothalamus with age.

Mice that were injected with a substance that inhibits NF-κB’s activity lived longer—up to 20 percent longer—while those injected with a substance that stimulated the molecule died earlier.

What’s more, the inhibitor seems to block the lamentable physical decline that occurs with age. Six months after the initial experiment, mice that had been injected with inhibitors performed better than controls on cognition and movement tests. “They also showed less age-related decline in muscle strength, skin thickness, bone mass, and tail-tendon integrity,” according to an article in Nature.  [Nature article by Chris Palmer]

 

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