A new study published in Nature shows that there are proteins in the blood of young organisms that could help the rejuvenate cells in the brains of the elderly, reports the Guardian's Mo Costandi. Stanford University researchers found that the blood of young mice contains proteins that promote the development of new brain cells in old mice. The team created artificial Siamese twin mice, allowing for the exchange of blood between the two animals in each pair, and pairing two young mice together, two old mice together, and one pair of old and young, Costandi says. By analyzing their brains, the team found that the pair of young mice and the pair of old mice had about the same number of newborn neurons as other unpaired mice their ages. But in the combined old/young pair, the brains of the old mice contained significantly more new cells than other old mice, and the young mice brains contained significantly fewer new cells than other young mice, Costandi says. "These results suggest that chemicals found in the blood of old mice inhibit the generation of new brain cells, whereas chemicals in the blood of young mice promote it," he adds. When the researchers injected blood from old or young mice directly into young mice, they found the same results. The team identified six signaling molecules whose levels were elevated in the young mice and the old mice with young blood. "Together, these results show that age-related changes in the composition of blood are linked to the decline in adult neurogenesis that occurs with age," Costandi says. "The researchers … suggest that these rejuvenating factors have the potential to alleviate the decline in cognitive function that occurs with ageing."
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