Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Cure For Dementia? Umbilical Cord Blood Revitalizes Brain Function, Study Finds

Cure For Dementia? Umbilical Cord Blood Revitalizes Brain Function, Study Finds

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that the protein located in the blood can actually boost learning and memory in older mice, opening the potential of new treatments for age-related mental declines, according to a report from Medical Xpress. But older mice that were given human cord plasma depleted of TIMP2 derived no learning and memory benefits.

"The really exciting thing about this study, and previous studies that have come before it, is that we've sort of tapped into previously unappreciated potential of our blood - our plasma - and what it can do for reversing the harmful effects of aging on the brain", lead researcher Joe Castellano told NPR.

Wyss-Coray's lab has pioneered the uses of parabiosis in aging research. And while "it's all very nice preliminary data", he says, there are dozens if not hundreds of other proteins that need to be looked at before anybody can say with confidence if these substances-or more generally speaking, a transfusion of blood from young to old-could help treat Alzheimer's or otherwise be useful in humans. Since that time studies have shown that blood from younger rats can rejuvenate the cell activity in the livers and muscles of older mice.

Ultimately the goal of this research is not to drain Millenials of their plasma to benefit Baby Boomers, but instead to isolate and synthesize the anti-aging compounds in young blood. These mice age just like wild-type; their neurogenesis and activation of immediate-early genes wanes while microgliosis rises as they mature. To find out what it was, Wyss-Coray and his colleagues gauged plasma-protein levels in humans and mice from different age groups, in search of proteins that the two species share in common and whose levels change similarly with age.

TIMP2 is plentiful in the plasma of umbilical cords, but levels of it decline with age.

A classic laboratory test of a mouse's spatial memory is called the Barnes maze. They also showed numerous biochemical and physiological signs of rejuvenation in their

Infusing this human plasma into the veins of elderly mice, they found, improved the animals' ability to navigate mazes and to learn to avoid areas of their cages that deliver painful electrical shocks.

What might TIMP2 do in the brain? However, other researchers say that TIMP-2 rises in these cases as a response to these diseases (specifically, to prevent protein-degradation), and aren't likely to be causative. Castellano found that many immune and trophic factors were upregulated in the blood of TIMP2 knockout mice, suggesting it may have a profound effect on the systemic and even the brain's "communicome". Wyss-Coray said. "And if it's multiple organs, does it change with aging at the same speed, and can we interfere with that?"

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