Study reveals brain aging mechanism in non-human primates
Chinese researchers have identified a gene that plays a key role in brain aging in non-human primates, providing insights into the molecular mechanism of healthy brain aging.
Brain aging is a complex process involving precise regulation of multiple brain regions. The molecular mechanisms remain to be studied in non-human primates.
Researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and other research institutions used 547 transcriptomes from 44 brain areas in four young and three aged rhesus macaques to study alterations during aging.
A transcriptome is a collection of all the gene readouts present in a cell. It can help researchers to have a comprehensive, genome-wide picture of what genes are active in which cells.
According to the report published in the journal Genome Biology, they found a decreased tendency of connectivity among multiple brain regions and between the left and right brain hemispheres during aging. The aging mechanisms across different brain areas are largely convergent.
The researchers identified a gene named PGLS that had a higher level of expression in the aged macaque brain. They then studied the function of higher PGLS levels in mice. The mice with higher PGLS levels displayed impaired learning and locomotor activity as well as a decrease in food intake.
They also found that PGLS overexpression induced a decrease in the number of cells and loss of synapses, a neural structure that permits a neuron to pass a signal to another neuron or to the target cell.
The researchers said their study provided insights into the molecular mechanism of healthy brain aging, and the PGLS gene can be taken as a new biomarker of brain aging in future studies.