The concentration of this protein decreases naturally with age and is a reason for impairment of cognitive ability, say the scientists
Scientists say that a longevity protein called Klotho may mitigate learning and memory deficits among patients of Alzheimer’s disease.
The concentration of this protein decreases naturally with age and is a reason for impairment of cognitive ability, say the scientists from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco.
In an earlier study these researchers had found that an increase in klotho levels is associated with better cognition in normal, healthy individuals. They had also shown that elevating klotho in mice enhances learning and memory.
However, it was not clear as to what would be klotho’s influence on age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. So, the scientists created a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease that produced higher levels of this protein throughout the body and found that raising klotho levels ameliorated the symptoms of the disease. So powerful was the cognition-enhancing effect of the protein that it counteracted the effects of Alzheimer-related toxins.
“Remarkably we were able to improve cognition in a diseased brain despite the fact that it was brimming with toxins,” said lead author Dena Dubal, an assistant professor of neurology and the David A Coulter Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease at UCSF.
“Not only does the protein make healthy mice smarter it also makes them resistant to Alzheimer-related toxicity. Without having to target the complex disease itself, we were able to provide greater resilience and boost brain functions,” Dubal said.
The benefits of Klotho may be attributed to its impact on NMDA, a type of neurotransmitter receptor in the brain crucially involved in learning and memory. The mice with elevated levels of klotho maintained normal levels of this receptor. In addition they had more GluN2B – a subunit of NMDA – than control animals.
This increase may have contributed to the protective effects of klotho, counteracting the detrimental impact of Alzheimer-related toxicity on the brain, researchers said.