A new research published in the magazine PLOS Biology describes the discovery of a link between cognitive decline and a protein in red blood cells. Research has found that mice lacking this protein suffer from rapid cognitive decline. If the same observation is validated in humans it will provide a new anti-aging therapeutic target.
"Red blood cells have the irreplaceable function of providing oxygen to maintain the bioenergetics of every single cell in our body", explains the lead author of the new study. Yang Xia. "However, their role in age-related cognitive decline and hearing function remains largely unknown."
The new research on cognitive decline
The study is based on the hypothesis that a progressive decrease in oxygen supply to tissues is a key factor in aging. The adenosine receptor A2B (ADORA2B) is a protein that helps release oxygen from red blood cells, and to test what effect reduced levels of this protein have on cognition, researchers developed mouse models designed not to have this vital protein.
With a series of cognitive and physiological tests, the animals were compared with healthy mice. Mice lacking ADORA2B showed faster declines in memory and hearing as they got older compared to control animals. When the animals were deprived of oxygen in a simulated hypoxia scenario, this age-related cognitive decline accelerated even more rapidly.
Researchers speculate that ADORA2B is vital for maintaining tissue oxygenation in the brain, and levels of key proteins decline as we age. This means that brain aging could potentially be slowed by finding ways to keep levels of this protein intact.
The idea that decreased tissue oxygenation plays a role in the onset of brain aging and cognitive decline is not yet proven. This new research offers a mechanism to explain previous studies that have shown how transplanting blood from young mice to old mice improves cognition. The research also offers clues as to how i hyperbaric oxygen treatments they can generate anti-aging effects.
Our results reveal that the ADORA2B red blood cell signaling cascade combats the early onset of age-related decline in cognition, memory and hearing. Promotes oxygen supply in mice and immediately highlights new rejuvenation targets.Yang Xia
It is still very early for this avenue of research, do not expect a new anti-aging treatment to derive from these results anytime soon. There are indications that a slight deprivation of oxygen in the brain occurs with aging, but more studies will be needed to focus on the phenomenon.