Researchers have found that the blood of young mice has the ability to restore mental capabilities of old mice, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The outcome may pave way for new therapeutic approaches to treating dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease if the same holds true for humans, said researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine.
The researchers have used sophisticated techniques to pin down important molecular, neuroanatomical and neurophysiological changes in the brains of old mice that went through infusion of young mice’s blood.
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The scientists have also compared older mice’s performance on standard laboratory tests of spatial memory after these mice had received infusions of plasma (the cell-free part of blood) from young versus old mice, or no plasma at all.
“We’ve shown that at least some age-related impairments in brain function are reversible. They’re not final,” said Saul Villeda, lead author of the study and a graduate student at Stanford, who is now a faculty fellow in anatomy at the University of California-San Francisco.
Previous experiments by Tony Wyss-Coray, the senior author of the study and a Stanford professor of neurology and neurological science, Villeda and colleagues had found that key regions in the brains of old mice exposed to blood from young mice produced more new nerve cells than did the brains of old mice similarly exposed to blood from old mice.
This time, the researchers checked both for changes within nerve circuits and individual nerve cells and for demonstrable improvements in learning and memory. They examined pairs of mice whose circulatory systems had been surgically conjoined.