From telephone numbers to foreign vocabulary, our brains hold a seemingly endless supply of information.
However, as we are getting older, our ability to learn and remember new things declines. A team of scientists around Associate Prof Dr Antonio Del Sol Mesa from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg and Dr Ronald van Kesteren of the VU University Amsterdam have identified the molecular mechanisms of this cognitive decline using latest high-throughput proteomics and statistical methods.
The results were published this week in the prestigious scientific journal “Molecular and Cellular Proteomics” (doi:.10.1074/mcp.M113.032086).
Brain cells undergo chemical and structural changes, when information is written into our memory or recalled afterwards. Particularly, the number and the strength of connections between nerve cells, the so-called synapses, changes. To investigate why learning becomes more difficult even during healthy ageing, the scientists looked at the molecular composition of brain connections in healthy mice of 20 to 100 weeks of age.
This corresponds to a period from puberty until retirement in humans. "Amazingly, there was only one group of four proteins of the so-called extracellular matrix which increased strongly with age. The rest stayed more or less the same," says Prof Dr Antonio del Sol Mesa from the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine.
The extracellular matrix is a mesh right at the connections between brain cells. A healthy amount of these proteins ensures a balance between stability and flexibility of synapses and is vital for learning and memory. "An increase of these proteins with age makes the connections between brain cells more rigid which lowers their ability to adapt to new situations. Learning gets difficult, memory slows down," Dr Ronald van Kesteren of the VU University Amsterdam elaborates.
In addition, the researchers not only looked at the individual molecules but also analysed the whole picture using a systems biology approach. Here they described the interplay between molecules as networks that together tightly control the amount of individual molecules and their interactions.
“A healthy network keeps all molecules in the right level for proper functioning. In older mice we found, however, that the overall molecular composition is more variable compared to younger animals. This shows that the network is losing its control and can be more easily disturbed when we age,” Prof Dr Antonio del Sol Mesa further explains. According to the researchers this makes the brain more susceptible to diseases.
Hence, this insight into the normal aging process could also help in the future to better understand complex neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Chemical compounds that modulate the extracellular matrix might be promising new treatments for learning disorders and memory loss.
http://www.mcponline.org/content/early/2014/07/19/mcp.M113.032086.full.pdf+html - LInk to the scientific article
http://www.uni.lu/lcsb - homepage to the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine
Britta Schlüter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception
25.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik
Studying a catalyst for blood cancers
25.04.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences
25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences