A variant of the gene KLOTHO is known for its anti-aging effects in people fortunate enough to carry one copy. Now researchers find that it also has benefits when it comes to brain function. The variant appears to lend beneficial cognitive effects by increasing overall levels of klotho in the bloodstream and brain.
What’s more, the improvements in learning and memory associated with klotho elevation aren’t strictly tied to aging. They do occur in aging mice, but also in young animals, according to a report published in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports. That means klotho works to enhance brain power, but in an unexpected way.
“Based on what was known about klotho, we expected it to affect the brain by changing the aging process,” said Lennart Mucke of the Gladstone Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, who directed the study. “But this is not what we found, which suggests to us that we are on to something new and different.”
Together with a large group of collaborators, Mucke and lead author Dena Dubal examined the question in three separate cohorts of people participating in aging studies of various kinds, adding up to more than 700 people. Their analysis showed that people with one of the life-extending variants of the KLOTHO gene scored better on cognitive tests. Because those effects were associated with higher circulating levels of klotho, the researchers turned to genetically engineered mice that express higher-than-normal levels of the life-extending substance.
Mucke says that means the findings could have broad therapeutic implications. “Because cognition is a highly valued aspect of brain function that diminishes with aging and disease, the potential to enhance it even slightly is of great potential relevance to the human condition,” Dubal said.
Source: Medical News Today.
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