A protein linked to longevity and enhanced cognition can protect against Alzheimer's symptoms, reveals a new research. Scientists from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco reported that raising levels of the life-extending protein klotho can protect against learning and memory deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and this boost in cognition occurred despite the accumulation of Alzheimer-related toxins in the brain, such as amyloid-beta and tau.
Ordinarily, Alzheimer's model mice have cognitive deficits, abnormal brain activity, and premature death, but raising klotho levels ameliorated these problems. The cognition-enhancing effects of the protein were powerful enough to counteract the effects of Alzheimer-related toxins, whose levels were unchanged.
Lead author Dena Dubal said that it's remarkable that they can improve cognition in a diseased brain despite the fact that it's riddled with toxins and in addition to making healthy mice smarter, they can make the brain resistant to Alzheimer-related toxicity. Without having to target the complex disease itself, they can provide greater resilience and boost brain functions.
Klotho's benefits may be due to its effect on a certain type of neurotransmitter receptor in the brain, called NMDA, that is crucially involved in learning and memory.
Senior author Lennart Mucke added that the next step will be to identify and test drugs that can elevate klotho or mimic its effects on the brain. They are encouraged in this regard by the strong similarities we found between klotho's effects in humans and mice in their earlier study.
Mucke added that they think this provides good support for pursuing klotho as a potential drug target to treat cognitive disorders in humans, including Alzheimer's disease.