Scientists have reported that they were able to reverse age-related changes in rats’ brains by treating animals with a drug.
As animals and human age brain function deteriorates. Particularly, cells of the hippocampus become less effective at storing new information; their synapses lose structure and function.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein found in the brain that promotes synaptic health and plasticity. It is known that brain BDNF levels decline with age.
In the current study, the scientists attempted to increase BDNF levels in older rats through the administration of a drug. The drug acted to increase histone acetylation. Histone acetylation of the BDNF gene increases its prodcution.
Sure enough the researchers found that when older rats were treated with the drug, aging effects of the brain were found to be reversed – they had normal synaptic plasticity.
“These findings shed light on why synapses become less efficient and more vulnerable to impairment during aging,” said Cui-Wie Xie, who led the study. “Such knowledge could help develop new drugs for cognitive aging and aging-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” she added.