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Better Smarts

Not only does the KL-VS variant of the Klotho gene extend lifespan, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, say in Cell Reports that it also is linked to better cognition.

Researchers led by UCSF's Leonard Mucke examined both the genotype and mental faculties of more than 700 people, finding that people heterozygous for the KL-VS variant performed better on neuropsychological measures, even when accounting for age, education, APOE status, and more. Homozygosity for KL-VS, the researchers note, is linked to shorter lifespan and other detrimental effects.

Additionally, in transgenic mice, they linked KL-VS heterozygosity to overexpression of the klotho protein, better long-term potentiation, and enriched synaptic GluN2B, a subunit of NMDAR that has previously been linked to learning and memory. The researchers also found that blocking GluN2B with the drug ifenprodil diminished the cognitive enhancement effects.

"That suggests klotho works its magic, at least in part, by increasing the number of GluN2B subunits in the NMDA receptors of the brain’s memory and learning circuits," The Economist says.

The Economist also notes that the effects of klotho could even be seen in young mice, suggesting that cognitive enhancement may occur throughout various life stages.