Alzheimer's: New Mechanism Reveals How Neural Stem Cells Avoid Aging

First Posted: Sep 18, 2015 03:54 PM EDT

Imagine if your thoughts were just as fast as they were when you were young. Now, scientists have identified a novel mechanism of how neural stem cells stay relatively free of aging-inducted damage, which could help with research concerning Alzheimer's Disease and other cognitive conditions.

It was known that with every division cellular aging factors are asymmetrically distributed between the mother and the daughter cell, allowing for rejuvenation and full life span of the daughter independent of the age of the mother cell. In addition, at least partially responsible for this is the presence of a diffusion barrier that restricts movement of molecules from one side to the other side of the cell during cell division.

In this latest study, the researchers found that the stem cells of the adult mouse brain asymmetrically segregate aging factors between the mother and the daughter cells. Responsible for this is a diffusion barrier in the endoplasmic reticulum. The barrier prevents retention of damaged proteins in the stem cell daughter cell keeping the stem cells relatively clean.

In addition, the scientists found that the strength of this barrier weakens with advancing age. This leads to reduced asymmetry of damaged protein segregation with increasing age of the stem cell.

"This is an exciting new mechanism involved in stem cell division and aging," said Sebastian Jessberger, one of the researchers, in a news release. "But as of now we are only just beginning to understand the molecular constituents and the true meaning of the barrier for stem cell division in the brain."

The findings could be important for better understanding age-related impacts on the brain.

The findings are published in the journal Science.

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