Targeting senescent cells may promote memory restoration

October 10, 2018 0 By CH Unnikrishnan

A recent research shows causal link between senescent cells and neurodegenerative disease, suggesting that targeting the former may provide a therapeutic avenue for the treatment of these pathologies. Mayo Clinic researchers, involving J. Bussian et al, found that senescent cells, on elimination from naturally aged mice, were found to extend their healthy life span. These cells accumulate with advancing natural age at sites related to diseases of aging, including osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis; and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The researchers used a mouse model afflicted with tau-dependent neurodegenerative disease, which accumulates p16 positive senescent cells showing tangles of tau protein in neurons. Ablation of these cells using genetically modified, INK-ATTAC transgenic mice model capable of eliminating the senescent cells was shown to prevent the neurofibrillary tangle deposition and degeneration of cortical and hippocampal neurons, thus preserving the cognitive functions, retaining their memory. Thus the study puts forward a best case scenario where prevention of brain damage was shown to avoid the diseased state. Since a different approach is required for clinical establishment, scientists have started working on models to examine the specific molecular attenuation that occur in the affected cells.