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
BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences