“Blocking protein’s activity restores cognition in old mice”
Brain cells called microglia serve as the brain’s garbage crew, scarfing up bits of cellular debris. But their underperformance in aging brains contributes to neurodegeneration. Now, a possible workaround?
By blocking a protein’s activity with antibodies, Stanford University School of Medicine investigators were able to improve cognitive behavior in aging mice.
A paper describing the finding was published online April 3 in Nature. Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, is the senior author. The lead author is MD-PhD student John Pluvinage.
Wyss-Coray has been working for several years on the question of what causes the brain to lose its acuity with advancing age. One focus of his research has been a class of brain cells called microglia, which serve both as the brain’s immune cells and its garbage crew. Among the many different things microglia do to keep the brain healthy is scarfing up bits of cellular debris and protein deposits that build up in the course of normal metabolic activity.